Why are Generation Z and millennials turning their backs on the biggest employment opportunities?

Santander Business explains why many Millennials and members of Generation Z don't want to work for SMEs - and what they are missing out on because of this decision.

Generation Z - photo of mixed group
  • Just a third (35 per cent) of young people leaving education in 2018 want to work for an SME (small and medium-sized business)
  • ‘Gen Z’ and Millennials do not believe SMEs offer the same job security or salary as large businesses
  • Yet SMEs make up 99 per cent of private sector companies and 70 per cent are actively recruiting for entry level roles
Those leaving education and looking for work may be missing out on potential employment opportunities simply by failing to consider Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the advantages they offer, new research from Santander UK reveals.
 
Just a third (35 per cent) of Generation Z and Millennials leaving full time education, whether that be school, college or university, say they wish to work for an SME. An even smaller proportion, just one in six (18 per cent), want to work for a start-up or micro business. Instead, the most popular career aspirations for Generation Z and Millennials are to work for a large firm (51 per cent), the public sector (51 per cent) or a global multinational (49 per cent).

Why don't Generation Z and Millennials want to work for an SME?

 The main reason Generation Z and Millennials say they would not want to work for an SME is because of a perceived lack of job security (56 per cent). There is also the belief that SMEs offer a lower salary (46 per cent) and fewer opportunities for progression than large companies (33 per cent).
 
Yet by choosing to ignore SMEs, young people are missing out on a vast number of opportunities, given that over 99 per cent of businesses are SMEs2. The majority (70 per cent) of SMEs3 are actively recruiting for entry level roles, whether that be graduates (43 per cent), further education leavers (36 per cent) or school leavers (35 per cent).
 
Sue Douthwaite, Managing Director of Santander Business, said: “SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, making up the overwhelming majority of private sector businesses. While there are fantastic opportunities working for large companies or the public sector, anyone about to leave education should not discount the huge range of exciting career opportunities offered by the nation’s SMEs. SMEs offer huge opportunities for growth and many are at the forefront of British innovation and exports.”
 
Graduate recruitment in particular is still at the top of the SME hiring agenda, with nearly a third (30 per cent) of businesses having hired a graduate in the last 12 months and a similar number (32 per cent) planning to do so in the next 12 months.

Santander's UK-wide Universities SME Internship Programme

To help connect graduates with SMEs, Santander runs a UK-wide Universities SME Internship Programme which matches up SMEs with interns at one of its 84 partner universities. SMEs can contact one of Santander’s partner Universities to find an intern who matches the needs of their business and are eager to begin their new career. Santander will then contribute funding of up to £1,500 to each SME per intern towards a placement of 1-10 weeks.
 
Lack of interest among young people in SME careers may, in part, be due to lack of exposure to them. SMEs tend to be less visible at careers fairs, with a third (33 per cent) admitting that they do not engage directly with education providers, so graduates and school leavers may need to be more proactive in reaching out to them in comparison to the big businesses and public sector which often exhibit at careers events.
 
Matt Hutnell, ‎Director of Santander Universities UK, commented: “SMEs may not be as visible in education institutions as larger businesses or the public sector as they may not have the same level of resources or just historically haven’t worked as closely with schools and universities. An internship is a fantastic way to get to know a business so anyone who isn’t sure what they would like to do, or who is and would just like some experience, should consider speaking to the careers department at their school, college and university and finding out what opportunities there are.”
 
For more information about the Santander Universities SME Internship Programme please visit talent.santander.co.ukFor more technology related news, visit our Talent Management pages.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre