Almost half of graduate and student employers are planning to increase the number of hires they make in the year ahead.
Turning a corner after a challenging few years for university-leavers, new research from Handshake and the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) reveals that 47% of companies that employ students and graduates will be looking to make more hires in the next year, while an additional 50% will maintain their current level.
The Graduate Employer Priorities 2023 report presents an optimistic picture, with the main motivation given by employers for increasing the number of grads they intend to hire being company growth (37%), or grad hires representing good value (20%). Meanwhile, one in nine (11%) suggest pent-up demand post-pandemic is a factor.
When making hiring decisions in the coming year, the single top priority given by graduate employers is equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), with 97% of organisations indicating this will be a key factor. Meanwhile, 90% of employers say that connecting with good candidates more generally is a concern.
With this in mind, graduate employers will be looking at new ways to reach potential hires – and build on existing channels – in the year ahead. Half of those surveyed (50%) consider utilising new technology to help identify and hire the right candidates a key priority, while 65% indicate that they need to strengthen relationships with university careers services teams.
Similarly, finding graduates with job-specific skill sets will remain a top priority in the year ahead, as 63% of businesses report that it’s a ‘high priority’ to hire candidates who are more sector-ready.
However, there is an awareness that recent graduates have had less time and experience in the workplace than previous cohorts due to the pandemic, with 85% of employers saying as much. This has potential repercussions in terms of equality of opportunity too, and 68% of employers believe the impact of Covid-19 on graduate candidate skills is more likely to impact candidates from marginalised backgrounds.
As such, many businesses are encouraging graduate and student candidates to bridge that gap in experience and job-specific skills by reflecting more closely on their applications. The single top tip given by graduate employers was to research both the role and mission of the organisation (23%), while candidates were also urged to make more of the soft skills they do have (14%).
Chris Anthony, Head of Employer Sales, UK at Handshake, says:“Lots of UK employers are clearly looking to kick on after a rollercoaster couple of years and bring more staff on board. There are still challenges, however, and the top priorities for the year ahead show that finding the right candidates remains tough. Hiring managers will be looking at how technology can help them, and we believe platforms like Handshake can play a key role in connecting the right candidate with the right role, regardless of their background or connections.”
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at Institute of Student Employers, adds: “It’s heartening to see that organisations are looking to boost the amount of students and graduates they’re bringing on board. Hiring early career talent is a win-win, as graduates offer businesses fresh ideas, new ways of doing things and represent great value – and it’ll be good news for recent uni-leavers that more roles at a broad range of top companies are likely to open up in the next 12 months, after some undoubtedly tricky times in recent years.”
For additional information, please visit joinhandshake.co.uk/gep