Law and financial services remain ‘elitist industries’ with more than half of employers only hiring from eight top universities, according to a report.
A shocking study, which probed 1,600 hiring managers from some of the top UK industries, found 41 per cent of law firms and a quarter of accountancy, banking and insurance companies admitted they are unlikely to hire anyone without a degree.
Engineering and marketing sectors were also among those most likely to require candidates to have attended a ‘top eight’ university – which includes the likes of Oxford, Cambridge, and King’s College London.
Across all industries, key reasons for this included the idea that graduates will already have the required skills (39 per cent) and only wanting the ‘best’ employees (33 per cent).
It also emerged three quarters of those in the law industry believe the skills on someone’s CV is more important than their cultural fit.
Despite this, 67 per cent of legal firm hirers also believe it’s easy to learn skills on the job, without a relevant university education, and 73 per cent have been pleasantly surprised after hiring someone without a degree.
The research was commissioned by Barrington Hibbert Associates, whose founder and CEO, Michael Barrington-Hibbert said: “It’s disappointing to see that these industries are missing out on employing so many fantastic candidates from different backgrounds, who have other kinds of education and life experience to bring to the table.
“Having a degree from a leading academic institution will absolutely enhance one’s employment opportunities, however, there are thousands of people who don’t have the financial means to attend higher education, let alone a ‘top eight’ university.
“This demonstrates, rather unfairly, that talented people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds still face a much harder battle to be employed in certain industries in this country.”
The research also found hiring managers in the public services and administration sector consider themselves the least ‘elitist’ – with 72 per cent likely to offer a candidate who isn’t university educated an interview.
And seven in 10 believe they will miss out on top employees by only hiring someone with a degree.
However, age is a key thing engineering (28 per cent), finance (21 per cent), healthcare (21 per cent), and marketing industries (21 per cent) take into account when hiring.
While 16 per cent of those recruiting for law firms consider family background in their top three requirements when taking on new talent.
As a result, 79 per cent of the legal workers polled admitted ‘who you know’ really helps people get their foot in the door, as well as promotions within the workplace, according to the stats by OnePoll.
Michael Barrington-Hibbert added: “When recruiting there are lots of things to consider, but age and family background should not play a role in the decision process.
“The UK is currently facing a desperate shortage of workers and the Government’s campaign to get over-50’s back into the workplace is failing miserably.
“The fact that ageism is clearly a factor behind the hiring decision process in these industries won’t be helping things in that respect.
“I hope this research serves as a wake-up call, because if these industries don’t start identifying, hiring and developing diverse, untapped talent, they will struggle to survive the coming climate.”