Graduate employers increase recruitment – for chosen few

The Institute of Student Employers’ Annual Student Recruitment Survey 2018 shows this year UK businesses hired significantly more graduates, apprentices and interns than in 2017.

Graduate recruitment selection
Graduate hires increased 16% in 2018, with more jobs available in engineering, law, utilities, banking or financial services. By comparison, in 2017 overall hires increased by 6%.Apprenticeship and school-leaver programmes also rose in popularity among the survey of 138 recruiters of 32,202 young people.

Pathways into employment broaden

Although the number of graduate jobs (17,667) outstripped apprenticeships (5,499) and school-leaver programmes (766), this type of employment is growing at a slower rate. Apprenticeship and school-leaver programmes grew 50% (19% in 2017) and employers recruited 7% more graduates (1% growth in 2017).This year also saw more summer and year-long internships, which increased 10% and 31% respectively. These organisations rehired an average of 52% of their interns and 43% of their summer placement students.
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Under-representation on graduate programmes

Despite these trends, the ISE warns that employers still need to do much more to make the profile of people recruited into graduate roles more representative of the graduate and wider population.On almost every diversity measure, the average graduate intake does not reflect the graduating cohort or the UK’s population, says the ISE.Given the ISE represents high-quality employers, particularly those in law, banking, professional and financial services, the organisation is concerned that only 57% of graduates appointed had a state school education, compared to 91% of the population.With rotational development assignments a feature of many graduate and internship programmes – offering the overseas experience employers frequently look to for promotions or career steps – the research also shines more light on the current imbalance of globally mobile men and women, BAME and LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities in global mobility.

How likely am I to get a graduate job?

The ISE found young people who attended state schools, women, first-generation graduates and disabled people are all under-represented on graduate programmes. 
  • 57% of graduate hires were state educated, compared to 91% of population
  • 46% of graduate hires were female, compared to 51% of the UK population and 57% of the higher education population
  • 28% of graduate hires identified as being BAME, compared to a 14% UK population average and 22% of the higher education population
  • 6% of graduate hires identified as LGBTQ+, compared to 2% of the UK population and 5% of the higher education population.
Despite this, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) believes employers’ continue to value young people, evidenced by the overall increase in student hires and the steps towards more inclusive recruitment practices.

What are employers doing to improve workforce diversity?

The ISE finds diversity is a significant priority for nearly all (96%) of the employers who responded to the survey.The majority is investing in improving their attraction and marketing activities (77%) and recruitment and selection processes (67%).One in five employers have also now removed minimum entry requirements while more than a third select universities to improve the diversity of their hires.To attract young people, employers are also offering rewarding packages, including pension schemes, permanent contracts, on the job perks and sign-on bonuses.The average graduate salary reported was £28,250, which is considerably above the overall graduate average of £22,000 (Higher Education Statistics Agency). However, it remains short of the average starting salary before the 2008 financial crisis.

Are some graduates locked out of careers with top employers?

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE said: “Employers haven’t been deterred by economic concerns around Brexit and the global trading climate. Students should be encouraged that there are lots of opportunities and different routes into some of the country’s top employers.“Employers are taking some serious action to improve the diversity of their workforce and there is a high level of concern, particularly as graduates from state schools are potentially being locked out of some of the best career options.“We must find the means to recruit the talent that exists within the breadth of the student body. This means changing the nature of recruitment and selection processes and putting less focus on Russell Group institutions or those that companies have historic links with.“It is important to look at the wider social obstacles too. We can’t expect businesses to shoulder the full responsibility for an unequal society.”For related news and features, visit our HR pages. 
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