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Graduate Job Confidence Slides as Labour Market Shrinks

By Beau Jackson, of hrmagazine

Fewer graduates in 2020 are confident of working in their dream industry than they were in 2019.

According to graduate job site Milkround, 83% of graduates expressed this sentiment last year compared to just 62% in 2020. 

Attitudes about universities have changed too. In 2019, 15% of graduates said their university could have done more to prepare them for the workplace, yet in 2020 this has risen to 25%. 

The global labour market has become unstable due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the most recent findings from the Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) COVID-19: Global impacts on graduate recruitment report, the market for graduate jobs in England is expected to shrink by between one and 14% each year from 2020-2021. 

Although government response to the pandemic has differed from country to country, a similar percentage of shrinkage is expected across Australia, Finland, New Zealand and the United States. 

“While graduates often escape the worst impacts of recessions, the size and health of the graduate labour market is tied up with the wider economy,” said an ISE statement. 

“The magnitude of the current crisis means that it is impacting on workers of all skill levels and is likely to be particularly difficult for those entering the labour market for the first time and those working in the sectors which are feeling the worst effects.” 

Though Milkround’s findings suggest graduate confidence is waning, an optimistic 71% of respondents said the pandemic has not impacted their decision on which sector they will go into, and the NHS tops the list of respondent’s most desirable companies to work for. 

Georgina Brazier, graduate jobs expert at Milkround said that the decisiveness where areas of work are concerned demonstrates a continued resilience in the graduate population. 

She added: “Over the next few months, it’s essential that employers really understand what it is the next generation of workers are looking for as they enter the workplace, and work out how they can support recent graduates in realising their dreams despite the current circumstances.” 

Milkround’s Candidate Compass Report is based on a survey of 2,838 student and graduate candidates, conducted between 14th – 29th April 2020.

Five Transferable Skills That Make Every Graduate More Employable
April 28, 2020
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The following ‘hints and tips’ may be of interest to any graduate looking to apply for their first job post-university. 

We’ve all seen the maxim: no job because no experience; no experience because no job.

But whoever created that maxim clearly didn’t think about transferable skills.

Transferable skills are the abilities and competencies that accompany you with every career transition. You developed a great range throughout university that are highly sought-after by employers.

Here are the most desirable transferable skills you have gained throughout your degree that can help you throughout the job application process.

Writing and Communication

As emojis, Snapchat and Instagram stories become a preferred way of speaking, 44% of hiring managers feel that a solid writing ability is lacking in many new recruits.

However, as a recent graduate, you have writing and communication skills in abundance.

Not only have you spent the last few years refining your language to hit that 2,000-word word count, you’re familiar with spelling and grammar basics and can write both formally and colloquially, too.

Employers don’t want the next Shakespeare; they want someone who can write efficiently, clearly and concisely via reports or emails, for example. Therefore, highlight your writing proficiency on your CV to show you’re a master of communication.

Teamwork

All employers expect their staff to be team players, regardless of whether they prefer to work independently or not. And this applies to all roles and industries.

Throughout your studies, you will have worked in a team, perhaps in a seminar task or in a society, for example.

Group tasks also develop a range of other skills such as active listening, collaboration and cooperation, commitment, negotiation and a positive attitude, which all employers seek in new hires.

When listing teamwork as a skill on your CV, make sure you explain how you obtained skills and precisely and concisely as possible, rather than what your team did collectively.

Presenting

The majority of professionals will present at some point throughout their career.

While it’s more common in client-facing sectors, such as sales, it’s also an increasingly common part of the interview process when you reach management level.

Even if you didn’t give a full-blown presentation during your degree, you will have exercised your communication skills by speaking up in lectures, seminars and workshops.

When discussing your presentation skills in the job application process, don’t limit yourself to being able to communicate effectively and channel nervous energy into confidence and enthusiasm. Remember that there was plenty of planning, preparation and organisation involved too. Present yourself as a well-rounded candidate.

Project Management

The ability to manage your time and workload effectively is imperative in the workplace. You will have your own tasks to take care of, but you will also be part of wider projects, sometimes spanning various departments and plenty of people.

And you don’t want to be the one that drops the ball.

As a graduate, you’re no stranger to the concept of project management after the tight ship you ran to meet coursework and exam deadlines. Explain to employers how you’re organised your resources and prioritised your time to achieve the best results possible. Also, delve into the obstacles and issues you faced and how you overcame them to prove that you’re a problem solver too.

Research and Critical Thinking

Like any course, the purpose of a degree is to understand and explore the subject matter in more detail. As a result, you’re a pro in the art of research and critical thinking – which are in-demand assets amongst the workplace.

The process involves thinking about abstract concepts and sources, evaluating them and then forming conclusions and making decisions. As a result, critical thinkers can present coherent reasoning around projects and proposals.

While you may have been a critical thinker when writing essays, professionals do the same every day, such as when planning a marketing campaign.

Therefore, draw on your critical thinking skills in your job applications and interviews, discussing how you evaluated, reasoned and made decisions throughout your studies and can bring this skill to the workplace.

What do Graduates do? Regional Edition
October 18, 2019
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A region-by-region guide to graduate destinations in the UK – with an introduction by AGCAS, insight and analysis by Charlie Ball, and commentary and data for every region of the UK

Key findings

This year’s edition of What do graduates do? takes a look at graduate destinations in the UK by region, revealing the top jobs, occupations and industries that graduates enter in each area – as well as the main occupational shortages.

  • There is no ‘UK graduate labour market’ as such. Instead, the UK is made up of a complex set of interlocking, sometimes overlapping local and regional labour markets.
  • Each region of the UK has its own character, issues of occupational supply and demand, and its own guidance and employability support challenges.
  • The picture is of an urbanised jobs market based around London and its environs, and the larger regional centres of the country.
  • Jobs are not evenly distributed throughout the UK, and tailoring careers advice can help students understand what opportunities are in their area.

Each section of the report contains a wealth of data, trends and analysis about the region in question. For example:

  • The North East has seen a 25% increase in graduates entering business, HR and finance professions.
  • 36.7% of new graduates in Yorkshire and the Humber’s business and finance sector work in Leeds.
  • 29.7% of new graduates in the East Midlands work for small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • 12.2% of all new graduates starting their careers work in the South East.
  • More than half of graduates working in London six months after graduation were originally domiciled in the capital city.
  • 90.6% of graduates starting their careers in Scotland had studied there.
What’s inside
  • Introduction by Gabi Binnie, policy and research manager at AGCAS.
  • What do graduates do in the regions? by Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects.
  • Commentary and data for every region of the UK: North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, South East, South West, London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • National averages.
Download the full report

What do graduates do? Regional edition

  • File typePDF
  • Number of pages in document44  pages
  • File size6.7MB

Download PDF file What do graduates do? Regional edition

About the report

What do graduates do? Regional edition 2019/20 was published in October 2019. It is a region-by-region guide to graduate destinations in the UK, six months after graduation.

It is based on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) 2016/17 survey, and the Employer Skills Survey 2017.

The report was produced by Prospects and AGCAS on behalf of HECSU. 

You can also read the regular What do graduates do? publication.

Written by
Photo: Laura Greaves

Laura Greaves Information analyst Prospects

Resilient Graduate Jobs Market with 10% Growth
September 13, 2019
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Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) annual student recruitment survey reports a resilient graduate labour market with 10% more jobs than the previous year.

Nearly 22,000 graduate jobs were created. This was mainly driven by significant increases in finance and professional services as well as public sector employers who recruited 35% more graduates, particularly in policing and education.

Since the 2008 recession graduate jobs have grown 10% or above on just two other occasions – in 2013 and 2014. While this suggests a buoyant market, employers are cautious: the short-term and temporary hire of graduates through internships or work placements has dropped by 4% and 7% respectively. Employers also anticipate that Brexit and/or a recession will reduce hiring over the next five years.

The energy and engineering, and legal industries were the only sectors to make small reductions in the number of graduates they recruited, down 1% and 3% respectively.

Employers had challenges recruiting graduates for engineering, IT programming and development, and technical and analytical roles. Actuaries, electronic engineers, prison officers and quantity surveyors were also highlighted as shortage areas.

The average graduate starting salary offered by ISE members remains competitive at £29,000. This was up £750 on last year, however, when indexed to the Consumer Price Index, salaries have not recovered to pre-recession levels in real terms. Graduates entering law, finance or IT are the most highly paid.

Employers have also increased hires onto school leaver programmes to more than 6,000 – up by 7% on the previous year.

The average ISE member is paying £1.225 million annually to the government through the apprenticeship levy. They reported starting 11,224 apprentices this year of whom 52% were non-graduates, 25% graduates and 23% existing staff.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of ISE said:

“Although the drop in temporary opportunities is concerning as this enables students to gain valuable work experience, employers are mainly resisting the urge to dial down their recruitment in the face of current and future challenges.

“Hiring is up, employers are receiving a healthy volume of applications and they are paying more. We hope that this continues and will do everything that we can to support firms as they manage the uncertainty that lies ahead.”

380,000 New Graduates Heading for a Lifetime of Underemployment
August 28, 2019
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Almost half of the class of 2019 in the UK won’t get a graduate-level job and will remain underemployed, latest figures show. 

The state of the graduate market, 2019: 

  • About 800 000 will graduate this year in the UK (HESA, 2018).
  • 380 000 of them will be underemployed, taking jobs that do not require a degree (CIPD, 2017).
  • Of the 420 000 graduates who do land a graduate-level job, 250 000 will be within tech/digital and IT roles (Graduate Coach, 2019). 

This data has been compiled by Graduate Coach – the UK’s leading graduate coaching company. They have successfully coached 500+ students and graduates helping them to secure graduate-level jobs at a wide range of organisations including Deloitte, Google, IBM, The NHS and more. 

In response to these findings, Graduate Coach has collaborated with CV-Library to commission research to gain a better understanding of why graduates are struggling to find graduate jobs that match their level of education. 

A survey of 1500 graduates revealed: 

  • 90% found it difficult to work out what job would suit them best
  • 86% found it difficult to write a good CV
  • 85% find interviews difficult and nerve-wracking 
  • 85% admitted needing work experience before entering the workforce 

Chris Davies, the founder of Graduate Coach said: “This is a sad reality for the graduates and the country because it involves wasted potential.” 

He also reveals: “ there are three main reasons why the 48% of graduates will fail to get suitable work: They don’t know which careers will suit them best, they cannot write good achievement-based CVs and need to acquire interview skills.” 

Over Half Of Students Not Confident About Finding Work After Graduating

Entering the world of employment can be challenging for the 14 million-plus graduates gearing up to start their working careers.

With figures showing that graduate starting salaries have remained unchanged for the fifth consecutive year, Fresh Student Living has delved into what those leaving university can expect from the job market, and whether there have been significant changes impacting students and graduates over the years.

Research from YouGov shows that 81% of students admit feeling pressured to find a job within the first six months of graduating, with the top reasons to find a job quickly being:

  • Wanting to earn money or have disposable income (82%)
  • Career aspirations (78%)
  • The belief that job prospects are thin on the ground (45%)
  • The desire to start paying back their student loan (23%)
  • Providing financial support from their family (24%)
Average starting salaries today

It has been revealed that over half (53%) of students are not confident about their job prospects after graduating.

Further research shows that both men and women feel doubtful about their graduate starting salaries, women feel this way more so. While students are seemingly already cynical about their career opportunities and pay, women are pricing themselves almost four grand lower than their male counterparts.

Subjects with The Highest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Dentistry£34,840
Chemical Engineering£31,824
Veterinary Medicine£29,224
Economics£29,068
General Engineering£29,068
Mechanical Engineering£28,236
Subject with The Lowest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Media Studies£18,928
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics£18,304
Drama, Dance & Cinematics£17,940
East & South Asian Studies£17,472
Creative Writing£16,796
Creative Arts & Design£15,184
Salaries for Some of The Most Popular Subjects
SubjectAverage Salary
English£29,068
Mathematics£25,896
Law£24,492
Business£24,336
Geography£23,348
The Hardest to Fill Roles and Skill Gaps in the UK

Recent Research by Bidwells has revealed that several popular subjects studied by university students have significant skills gaps. This is when graduates are most likely to find employment when they enter the job market, but because of the skills gap, they may have the right qualifications to enter these fields.

Sectors with the biggest skills gaps:
  • Science and Technology: -69.49%
  • Construction: -66.75%
  • Education: -66.51%
  • Health and Social Work: -51.79%
  • Manufacturing: -42.3%

Although there are some industries and sectors who prefer experience to qualifications, bridging courses and online boot camps can assist with closing the gap and enabling more students to successfully find employment after finishing at university.

Best Location for Graduates Seeking Jobs

In 2018, London, the Education Capital of the World, also doubled up as the UK’s biggest hotspot for graduate recruitment; offering just under half of all vacancies based in the UK.

  1. London
  2. South East
  3. West Midlands
  4. North West
  5. Yorkshire and Humberside
  6. South West
  7. Scotland
  8. East Midlands
  9. East of England
  10. North East
  11. Wales
  12. Northern Ireland
Who is Australia’s Most Popular Graduate Employer?
May 7, 2019
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Deloitte is the number one graduate employer in Australia according to the latest data from the joint report by the Australian FinanciallogoReview (AFR) and GradConnection 

The Top 100 Graduate Employers 2019 list followed tact on previous editions, with the Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, KPMG and EY) featuring in the top 10, alongside IBM (#3), NSW Government (#4), Accenture (#6), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (#8), Quantium (#9) and Dentsu Aegis Network (#10).

Deloitte jumped from number three to top spot, displacing 2018 number one PwC into second position. NSW Government was a big mover, shifting from outside the top 10 (#12) into third, as was Commonwealth Bank of Australia (#18 to #8) and Denstu Aegis (#22 to #10). However, it was rapidly growing data analytics firm Quantium that made the biggest surge into the top 10, sliding 21 places down the list from #30 to #9.  Read more

The 20 Best Cities for Graduates to Find Jobs Right Now
March 19, 2019
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New data by AdView’s based on an analysed of 13 different metrics, such as wage growth, average monthly rent and employment rate, shows which citiesThe 20 best cities for graduate opportunitiesand regions in the UK rank the best in terms of opportunity and affordability for graduates.

The top 20 cities for graduate opportunities are:

1. Liverpool
2. Edinburgh
3. Leicester
4. Bristol
5. Belfast Read more

Graduates Worried About Job Prospects Post-Brexit
March 13, 2019
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Most graduates (78%) think that Brexit will negatively affect their careers, according to research by Milkround

A further 52% of this year’s graduate pool think it will be more difficult to secure a graduate role, similarly to the period following the 2008 financial crash.

Half (50%) of those that graduated during the global financial crisis said they found it more difficult to secure a graduate job because of the crash, taking an average of eight months to find their first career job. Ten years on, three-fifths (58%) say the 2008 crisis had a negative impact on their career.

The financial crisis also in some cases obstructed 2008 graduates’ entry into their desired field, with half (50%) saying they had to change their post-university plans and three-fifths (62%) taking a job in a different sector because of lack of available roles.

Milkround warned that this year’s graduates are taking a similar approach to delaying their entry into the job market, with 55% planning to postpone looking for their first role. Sixty per cent expect to take a position in a different sector, 18% think they will need to do temporary work and 9% plan to go travelling instead. The results also reveal a 15% rise in the number of graduates planning to take up a postgraduate qualification rather than heading straight into work. Read more

Graduate Labour Market Statistics
April 25, 2018
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Graduate labour market statistics have been released by the Department for Education covering graduate, postgraduate and non-graduate employment rates and earnings for England.

They show that: In 2017, graduates and postgraduates had higher employment rates than non- graduates.

Long-term trends illustrate that employment rates fell across all groups as the recession hit in 2008, although for graduates and non- graduates these have since recovered to around pre-recession levels. The employment rate for working-age postgraduates in 2017, however, was still 1.3 percentage points below 2007 levels (89.1%).

Read more