Despite much employment doomsaying, there are reasons to be cheerful for graduates and those looking to change careers.
In the present moment, you could be forgiven for concluding, after a cursory glance at the papers, that employment prospects are worse than during the 2008 Financial Crash.
Companies everywhere have had to tighten their belt in response to the pandemic, and according to the ONS, In the three months to November 2020, the redundancy rate reached a record high of 14.2 per thousand.
However, for graduates and young people, things are looking very promising indeed. The truth is that the graduate job market is expanding at an exciting rate. I’ll explain why.
We have now had more injections than infections. As of Monday 15th February, there have been more than 170 million injections worldwide.
According to Sky News, if vaccinations continue at the current rate in the UK and second doses are given at 11 weeks, all 32 million people in the nine priority groups could receive the first dose as soon as the end of March.
These statistics are giving rise to corporate optimism, as organisations can begin planning, and hiring, for a better future.
Since Britain hit its latest vaccine milestone, the FTSE 100 has soared, and the pound has passed $1.39 for the first time since 2018, continuing its steady recovery to $1.40 after hitting a 35-year low in 2020.
Latent Cash Reserves
British households have amassed £150 billion in savings, as spending has plummeted during the pandemic.
According to Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane, we are on the verge of a rapid return to prosperity. Buoyed by the vaccine success, the economy has overcome a significant hurdle, with “enormous amounts of pent-up financial energy waiting to be released, like a coiled spring”.
Nor does Haldane expect this savings-led injection of demand only to apply to households. Indeed, he places the figure currently in corporate bank accounts waiting to be spent at 100 billion.
Haldane said that with consumer demand set to shoot up, “the conditions are in place for businesses to splash some of their cash, too.”
What do all these figures mean for graduates? Put simply, huge increases in job vacancies on recruitment websites.
Which Are The Growth Industries?
As companies rally and prepare to invest heavily to regrow, some sectors are clearly emerging as better bets than others.
Dan Hawes, co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, highlights four areas of pronounced growth and job creation:
- Areas in which a digital transformation is needed. These include e-commerce, fintech and digital communication companies such as Zoom. Amazon hired hundreds of grads via the Graduate Recruitment Bureau in 2020 alone, for example
- Logistics and operations. In other words, any company involved in the flow of goods, services and information from a point of origin to a point of consumption. For example, electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, from which Amazon has just ordered 100,000 vehicles
- Companies that help people. Health and social care, as well as medical technology, are key areas. For example, Pfizer and AstraZeneca
- In-home services and deliveries, for example, Naked Wines
Dan is optimistic about the graduate job market: “2019 was the best year ever for the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, so it was disheartening for us to observe a 25% drop in the number of grads hired in 2020.
“However, early indications for 2021 are good, based on current revenue and forecasts. The lower we sunk in 2020, the higher we’ll bounce back.”
Dan Hawes of GRB
If there isn’t much optimism among more senior members of the workforce, why should graduates, and those less skilled, have cause to be positive?
First and foremost, graduates are cheap hires. With the corporate world standing by to unleash its deposits, companies will need to have sufficient personnel to grab and maintain new business.
As Chris Davies of Graduate Coach says, “the most efficient way to do this is by increasing graduate appointments. You can hire three graduates at £25,000 per year, as opposed to one senior hire at £75,000.”
Dan Hawes of GRB is in agreement: “The sectors that are hiring, for example, tech, need energetic people who can hit the ground running. Companies are prepared to train and invest, and graduate recruitment is future potential.”
As well as being cost-effective, graduates are ideal for companies in the scramble for new business.
With the imperative to regrow after the pandemic, companies need motivated workers who will develop the business quickly. The stage is set for motivated young people to prove themselves.
As Katie Clough of Give a Grad a Go, a top graduate recruitment agency in the UK, says, “Where the pandemic has left many companies stuck in their old processes and confused with how to adapt, graduates offer a fresh new perspective.
“They have the drive and ambition to motivate the company towards the future, and, crucially, they’re easy to mould and keen for development opportunities which means they can grow with your business.”
So, Where to Apply?
As well as the growth industries pointed out by Dan Hawes, above, it is worth talking about two areas in a little more depth.
Business Development and Sales
Wherever there are growth opportunities for businesses, there will be job creation in business development and sales. The greater the opportunities, the greater the resources needed to meet them.
- Business Development
- Client Services
- Account Manager
At the entry-level, these things all refer broadly to the same job: find and maintain new clients for the business.
With companies desperate to regrow, it is little wonder there are so many of these jobs on recruitment sites.
The good news for grads is that these roles often don’t require hard skills; they require excellent communication, empathy and organisational skills. If this sounds like you, I urge you to visit the recruitment sites and get applying: companies need you.
Tech and Digital
It should come as no surprise that tech and digital are growing very quickly. Companies like Zoom have kept the world connected, while e-commerce has helped to maintain the economy during global lockdowns.
Indeed, Katie Clough states that “tech is booming the most. Out of the fifteen sectors we recruit for, seven of these are Tech industries and, unsurprisingly given the climate we've seen, there has been a rise in areas such as MedTech and FinTech in particular.”
What if I Don’t Have The Right Skills?
While digital jobs may put off some grads due to a lack of confidence in their own hard skills, there is help at hand.
Graduate Coach, which is the UK's leading Graduate Coaching company offers a unique Digital Internship, which offers graduates with no experience in the world of work the opportunity to make themselves digitally fluent and highly employable. With 85% of all graduate jobs set to require digital knowledge by 2025, digital fluency is a must.
The programme offers the perfect opportunity to make yourself indispensable to companies in the two big growth areas, tech and business development.
Just because opportunities are increasing in certain areas doesn’t mean a job is going to fall into your lap.
Indeed, Dan Hawes insists that graduates must think laterally when applying:
“Each industry itself exists in an ecosystem of industries. Take e-commerce; it isn’t just an algorithm that gets the product to the consumer - there are myriad suppliers and satellite firms that contribute to the supply chain.
“For example, logistics plays a huge role, as do the companies that design the systems that ensure the whole process is smooth.”
In other words, for every coveted Amazon job, there are many crucial jobs at other companies without which Amazon would not be able to function.
Hawes suggests accountancy as another example in which lateral thinking could pay off:
“You don’t need an accounting degree to work at an accountancy firm! Think of other departments, for example, marketing and human resources. As these firms expand after the pandemic, they will do so in every area.”