The Graduate Labour Market – down but not out!

Lucy Everett, Employer Engagement Manager, summarises recent findings and concludes with advice about what you can be doing now.

“The student labour market is down but not out and while it is a challenging time for young workers to be entering the labour market employers are continuing to recruit and adapting their recruitment processes to the new situation.”

That is the conclusion of the recent report from the Institute of Student Employers and Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, from their recent survey of 179 graduate employers, including some of the largest ones.

Sometimes, reading the negative headlines around the economy, it is easy to forget that these don’t reflect the nuances of the labour market, and what we know about the graduate labour market in particular.

Yes, as the report says, it is a challenging time for the labour market – but if you are graduating this year, it is not as bad as you think! This report tells us:

Graduate jobs are, relatively, the least affected

  • 12% drop in recruiting for graduate roles this year, compared to 32% in apprentice and school leaver roles. Only a minority of organisations have reneged job offers and that is concentrated in badly affected sectors. If yours is one of the jobs affected, keep a good relationship with your employer and keep looking – here are some suggestions for earning money from home.
  • The immediate impact is being felt by Built environment, Energy, Engineering & industry, and Non-Food Retail & Fast-Moving Consumer Goods. However for others, such as Charity and Public Sector, this period has highlighted the importance of their work.
  • Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) are most cautious and likely to be pausing recruitment to protect current roles and business continuity.

Immediate work experience is the most heavily impacted

  • 40% fewer internships and placements but many employers have shifted to offering remote working or alternative programmes such as work insights or skills development training programmes. (If your internship has been cancelled, read what you can do next here.)

There will still be graduate jobs next year

  • Lots of organisations are still uncertain about their plans for next year but 45% are planning to recruit as usual or increase the number of roles.

Recruitment processes have moved online

  • 70% of employers surveyed have moved assessment centres and interviews online and are intending to keep them remote for the foreseeable future.
  • 31% are pushing back start dates by a month or two and 55% are planning for remote inductions for new starts.

Employers recognise the importance of mental health at this challenging time

  • 94% are providing support for health and wellbeing of staff, e.g. online social gatherings and mental health support.

What should you be doing?

  • Keep looking and applying! There will be fewer jobs but there will still be graduate-level roles and student talent is still in high demand. MyCareerHub is a good place to start.
  • Proactively share information about timeframes and processes for your qualifications. Some employers are concerned about how and when qualifications are being awarded, so share what University of Edinburgh is doing. We are also sharing this with employers.  
  • Get up to speed on virtual recruitment processes – read our recent blog.
  • Reflect on how much you are already up to speed on remote working, e.g. using video meeting software, and share this in your applications.
  • Watch out for ways to connect remotely with employers including the Graduate Jobs Fair Online on 8th July.

“One thing that we can be certain of is that the young people who are currently in education should remain as one of the country’s most prized assets. Those young people should prepare themselves for entering a challenging labour market in the process of rapid change.”   Institute of Student Employers & AGCAS. (2020)

Reference: Institute of Student Employers & AGCAS. (2020). Covid-19: The impact of the crisis on student recruitment and development. London: Institute of Student Employers.

Find out how we can support you at this time, and what you can be doing, in our FAQs and updates

(Photo by Othmar Vigl from Pexels)

(Photo by Othmar Vigl from Pexels)


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