Ireland's rate of graduate employment is lower than the EU average after it was revealed that only 73.9pc of those who have left college over the last three years have found a job.
According to new figures from Eurostat, Ireland is 2.1pc below the EU average of graduate employment and some distance off Malta and Germany which boast rates of 93pc and 90pc respectively. The president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Kevin Donoghue, said he wasn't surprised Ireland had fallen below the EU average of 76pc.
"It's not surprising to see that we're below average in terms of graduate employment and we're below average at a time when graduate employment is low."
He added that "76pc is not exactly a significant achievement by any stretch of the imagination, even on an average level". Irish male graduates have a higher rate of employment than their female counterparts. The figures show that 74.2pc of male graduates who have left college over the last three years are in employment.
This is a contrast to the female rate of 73.6pc.
Interestingly, graduates who were born outside of the EU but are living in Ireland have a higher employment rate than both those born inside the EU and born specifically in Ireland. Three-quarters of graduates born outside the EU living in Ireland are in work, which exceeds the EU average significantly. The EU average of employed graduates born outside the EU is 66.8pc.
Mr Donoghue criticised the job-seeking environment that has been created for those coming out of college.
"People going into college now have to expect for some reason to work six months for free in order to gain experience and show enough loyalty to a company they've never heard of in order to prove they're able to work.
"If you're under 26 and unemployed it's incredibly difficult to even put yourself in a position where you can financially afford to look for work. For a lot of people If you're unemployed, you're stuck unemployed," Mr Donoghue said.
Just over half of those with upper secondary levels of education who have left in the last three years are in employment.
The EU has set a benchmark of over 80pc, a mark that 11 countries within the EU 28 exceed. Ireland does not reach the benchmark but did in 2004.
The benchmark was set under the strategic framework for education and training 2020. It aims to have all EU member states boast employment rates of its graduates of at least 82pc.
The gulf in employment between male and female graduates over the last ten years across the EU has remained almost identical.
Turkey has the largest diversification between male and female employment while Sweden has the smallest.
In Sweden 84.9pc of males graduated in the last three years are employed while 85pc of females are employed. In Turkey 71.1pc of males are employed compared to 54.3pc of females.