Graduate and entry level roles (return to main news page)

The year opens with predictions of a slowdown in graduate recruitment and entry level roles.

Young professionals may be facing a year of fewer employment opportunities and increased competition, according to one new report.

The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) Pulse Survey 2020 records a slowdown in the rate of recruitment of graduates and school leavers.

The report places employer expectations for graduate and entry level recruitment at 2.7 per cent for the next twelve months. However, the reality may be even lower than this figure, as recruiters are consistently failing to match targets.

To put the data into context, last year’s ISE figures put graduate recruitment growth forecasts at 18 per cent (+18%).

CRUNCH TIME FOR JOB CREATION

But what is the catalyst for a sudden crash in recruitment confidence? Complimentary data from the Institute of Employment Studies would suggest that the 2020 data is perhaps the crunch point of a long-standing trend.

In fact, 3.4 million jobs have been created over the last decade. But, of that total, the vast majority (2.5 million) were classed as “professional” or “senior” roles. 400,000 were classed as skilled or semi-skilled. Just 500,000 low-skilled jobs have been created since 2010.

The focus on skills has essentially created jobs that are off-limits to school leavers and graduates.

At the same time, apprenticeship schemes also showed signs of slowdown. Apprenticeships saw a seven per cent (7%) increase in the year to January 2019. In the past twelve months, that figure fell to just two per cent (2%).

CHOICES BECOME NARROWER

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE, said: “What we’re seeing now is particularly concerning as employers are normally over optimistic at this time of the year. As we move through the recruitment season they typically recruit less than they had anticipated”.

“The graduate jobs market is an early indicator of the health of the economy as employers tend to plan further ahead when deciding their graduate recruitment needs.”

But there were some signs of optimism, by sector. The public sector is outperforming the private sector, with a 14 per cent increase in entry level positions. Charities and nonprofits provided compatible opportunities for young professionals (14% increase).

Meanwhile, the UK construction industry saw an 11 per cent growth in entry-level hires. The IT and tech sector led the way with a 25 per cent increase in the number of entry level and graduate roles being created. The data once again underlines the growing significance of the digital economy in the world of work and recruiting.

Mr Isherwood said: “Outside the public sector the market is not looking particularly healthy. Government needs to get the economy moving otherwise this year we’ll be in for a stagnant graduate labour market at best. If the government want to see further growth in the apprentice market, they need to address employer concerns about how the apprentice levy works.”

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