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Graduate recruitment is stabilised and bouncing back

Clare Tregaskis – Institute of Student Employers

The majority of the UK’s top graduate employers have stabilised or increased recruitment this year, according to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

The survey of 135 student employers found that while nearly half (48%) are recruiting the same number of graduates as last year, 36% are hiring more with 18% increasing their intake by at least 10%.

Just 16% have cut graduate vacancies compared to last year when recruitment was scaled-down by 44% of employers due to the pandemic. However, this year there is considerable shrinkage in retail and FMCG with 38% cutting graduate recruitment.

Employers are also hiring more school leavers. Almost a third (31%) are increasing recruitment from last year and 57% are hiring the same number. Meanwhile 11% have cut recruitment, which is a 44% drop in the number reporting shrinkage last year.

Opportunities for students to gain work experience will also be more widely available, although much of this activity will take place virtually. More than half (56%) of employers are recruiting the same number of interns as last year and 24% are hiring more. Only a fifth have cut opportunities this year, compared to the 38% in 2020.

While the student recruitment market is recovering, the way it operates will be different. Employers were asked how student recruitment, such as interviews, assessment centres and work experience, would be run this year. The majority reported that a blended approach rather than fully online or face-to-face would be taken.

Employers were also asked about their confidence in the future. While they were optimistic about the future of their organisation and that the worst of the pandemic is over, they were less positive about the economic crisis and that there are enough opportunities for young people in particular.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the ISE said: “Employers are optimistic that we’re reaching the end of the pandemic, but not that the economic crisis is over. However, early indicators show that the market is on the upturn and there will be more employment opportunities for young people this year. Whilst the jobs market remains tough, students need to keep working on their skills and engaging with employers.

“Student recruitment and development will operate differently. Two years ago the majority of how we recruited and developed young people was largely in person and nobody is talking about going back to this. The crisis has forced more employers to adopt technology and we’re already seeing a more permanent shift to online and blended techniques as they realise the benefits. People are looking for new and different models rather than reverting to what they know.”

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