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.

ONS Blog – Measuring the Labour Market During Coronavirus
April 21, 2020

The coronavirus is clearly having a very serious effect on the UK economy.

Measuring its impact on the world of work presents unique challenges.

Ahead of the latest labour market statistics release, ONS Head of Labour Market and households David Freeman looks at how it is responding to the pressing need for new information.

Go to the blog

Regional Labour Market Statistics in the UK: October 2019
October 16, 2019

Regional, local authority and Parliamentary constituency breakdowns of changes in UK employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other related statistics.

Main points
  • For the three months ending August 2019, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South West (81.0%) and the lowest was in the North East (71.2%).
  • For the three months ending August 2019, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in the North East (5.8%) and the lowest was in the South West (2.4%).
  • For the three months ending August 2019, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (26.4%) and the lowest was in the South West (17.0%).
  • Between March 2019 and June 2019, the largest estimated increase in workforce jobs in the UK was in the North East at 43,000, while the largest decrease was in London at 35,000.
  • In June 2019, the region with the highest estimated proportion of workforce jobs in the services sector was London at 91.4%, while the East Midlands had the highest proportion of jobs in the production sector at 14.4%.
  • The highest average estimated actual weekly hours worked, for the 12 months ending June 2019, was in London at 33.7 hours and the lowest was in the North East and South West, both at 31.3 hours; for full-time workers it was highest in Northern Ireland, at 38.6 hours and for part-time workers it was highest in Scotland at 17.1 hours.

Read more by following the link below:

What Motivates Adults to Learn? A Report by Nesta
September 5, 2019

The labour market is changing fast. Fifty-four per cent of all employees will require extensive upskilling or reskilling by 2022 (World Economic Forum, 2018) and eighty-five per cent of jobs in the European Union now require at least a basic level of digital skills (Cedefop, 2018). 

To meet the evolving needs of the job market, workers, business and governments need to adapt to a culture of lifelong learning by providing citizens with high-quality training opportunities.

However, a well-designed skills policy or training service doesn’t always translate into uptake. Workers also need to feel motivated to learn new skills and those who are most vulnerable to labour market changes are not always receptive or willing to reskill. So uncovering what drives motivation to learn is a priority.

Using evidence from a rapid evidence assessment (REA), carried out by CFE Research, this report by Nesta’s Digital Frontrunners identifies what motivates working adults to take part in and complete training in digital and digital-complementary skills.

Key findings
Motivation to learn is complex

Many factors drive people to learn. On the one hand, learners are motivated by external rewards, such as financial incentives, improved job opportunities or approval from a manager. However, learning also needs to be personally rewarding to feel worthwhile. Regardless of the external rewards like accreditation or incentives, it must be enjoyable, challenging and interesting (Kantar, 2018).

Without both these internal and external motivators, people are unlikely to take up or complete training. Therefore, skills policies and training services which consider both are the most likely to succeed.

Behaviour change models can help policymakers understand how external and internal factors interact to drive motivation to learn and design accordingly. The report outlines how the COM-B model (Michie et al, 2011) could be particularly useful in this respect.

Drivers to learn are personal

It’s tempting to give policymakers a list of general barriers and enablers to learning for them to consider when designing training services. However, in reality the choice to start training is complex and personal. For each adult, the decision to participate in learning comes at a tipping point where ‘personal benefits outweigh personal costs’ (Kantar, 2018). For some people the balance might be tipped when the financial costs of training are reduced. For others, it might be when they have access to childcare.

There is also some evidence that demographic factors like age, gender and education level affect motivation to learn. Across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, women tend to participate in training slightly less than men (OECD, 2019). Younger adults, those with higher education levels and higher socioeconomic groups are most likely to be learning (Kantar 2018). However, we need more granular research to understand the motivators and barriers for different groups when it comes to learning digital and digital-complementary skills specifically.

Self-reflection and goal setting increase motivation to learn

One of the most effective methods for helping learners to stay motivated is by pairing the learner with a trusted advisor who knows them personally, and knows the job or training course the learner is interested in (Kantar, 2018). The advisor can help the learner navigate their own personal barriers and enablers to training.

Some studies suggest that careers guidance techniques that promote self-reflection and goal setting successfully encourage workers to learn new skills (Stauffer et al, 2014; Eisele et al, 2013).

We need to test and learn to find out what works

Crucially, our rapid evidence assessment highlights a lack of evidence about what works to motivate workers to learn digital or digital-complementary skills. Although Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) are being rolled out in several countries, there isn’t yet much strong evidence that they work – although a forthcoming OECD report is expected to conclude that ILAs can be an important, emerging approach to training interventions which help structure learning over a career. We believe it is critical that governments invest in evaluating what works and identifying best practice.

Currently, there is no shared framework to measure the success of training services, which makes it hard to compare and contrast approaches. There would be value in creating a shared set of measures for effectiveness that could be used across the skills system.

What next?

There is more to be done to understand what policies can effectively increase workers’ motivation to learn digital and digital-complementary skills. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Nesta’s Digital Frontrunners will test training and learning interventions to help policymakers understand what works for lifelong learning. Digital Fronrunners will also use evidence from the REA as a foundation for primary research, and to inform discussions and practical projects in the future.

Digital Frontrunners is a programme led by Nesta that aims to find solutions to the challenges of digital transformation.

You can download the full report following the link below.

Report authors:
Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE
Alex Beard
Alex Stutz
John Higton
Dr Guy Birkin
Andrew Corley
Chris Milner

Labour Productivity, UK: January to March 2019

Output per hour, output per job and output per worker for the whole economy and a range of industries.

Main Points
  • Labour productivity for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019, as measured by output per hour, decreased by 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; this was a marginally greater quarter-on-year decrease than the negative 0.1% seen in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2018.
  • Services recorded labour productivity growth of 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; in contrast, labour productivity growth fell in manufacturing by 0.9% during the same period.
  • Output per job grew by 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019 compared with the same quarter in the previous year, as gross value added (GVA) grew faster (1.8%) than the number of jobs over the same period (1.0%).
  • Commentary for unit labour costs are now available in the Unit labour costs bulletin, published on the same day (5 July 2019).

View More Below:

Four International Reports Related to Career Development
March 20, 2019


World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work (World Bank)

This report studies how the nature of work is changing as a result of advances in technology. Fears that robots will take away jobsfrom people have dominated the discussion over the future of work, but the World Development Report 2019 finds that, on balance, this appears to be unfounded.

Investing in Refugee Talent: Lessons Learned in Labour Market Integration (Hire Immigrants, Cities of Migration and BertelsmannStiftung)

This report shares 13 international best practices in refugee labour market integration, which all represent the pivotal role of employment in the integration of refugees and the private sector as a key stakeholder in receiving communities. Read more

Nearly 10% of Adults Have Never Done Paid Work
March 5, 2019

While UK employment is at record levels, there are still millions of people across the country who have never had a paid job reports the Office of National StatisticsOffice for National Statistics.

Around 3.6 million adults in the UK have never been paid for work, analysis has shown.

Of more than 41 million 16- to 64-year-olds in the UK, 75% were employed in July 2017 to June 2018, but there were still nearly 10% who had never done paid work.

Young people aged 16 to 24 years represent most of the population who have never had a paid job – 71% including students. Even excluding those in full-time study, more than half of people who have never carried out paid work are aged under 30 years (52%). Read more

Labour Market Outlook: Spring 2018

The quarterly Labour Market Outlook, produced in partnership with  The Adecco Group UK & Ireland provides a set of forward-looking labour market indicators highlighting employers’ recruitment, redundancy and pay intentions.

The survey is based on responses from 1,008 employers. Additionally, this report also considers the extent to which the tightening in the UK labour market is hampering employers’ ability to find staff and putting modest upward pressure on wages.

Executive Summary


This survey points to continued growth in demand for labour in Q2 2018, which will lead to a further tightening of the UK labour market for employers. This quarter’s net employment balance – which measures the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staff levels and those who expect to decrease staff levels in the second quarter of 2018 – has increased to +26 from +16 over the past three months. The measure is at its highest level since it was introduced in the winter 2012/13 report.

The survey data is consistent with official labour market data, which shows that employment growth remains strong while the number of vacancies in the UK economy remains well above historical average levels. However, the positive employment picture contrasts with disappointing first quarter GDP growth estimates for 2018 of just 0.1%, which, alongside other economic indicators, point to lower economic activity.

In addition, the strong demand for labour is not being matched by labour supply, which has also been affected modestly by a relatively abrupt slowing in the growth rate of EU nationals coming to the UK over the last 12 months.

Read more

Graduate Labour Market Statistics
April 25, 2018

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

Migration, The EU and the Labour Market – How Much do you Really Know?
July 20, 2017

Of the estimated 30.3 million people in employment in the UK, 11%, approximately 3.4 million, are migrants.

But how well do people understand the facts of migrant labour?

What skills do they have, what sectors do they work in, what hours do they work?

Visit the Office for National Statistics to find out.

Test yourself with our interactives.