Just 24 percent of students who graduated from a college or university last year have been working in a role that requires a degree, according to the study, “The Emerging Talent Index.”
Research released earlier this year by Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS), the provider of talent and resourcing functions, reveals that competition for graduate roles is set to be tougher than ever in 2010 as more than half of graduates from 2009 join the hunt for jobs alongside the class of 2010. This increased competition seems to have hit 2009 and 2010 graduates’ confidence, leading to less targeted applications and a willingness to apply for positions outside of their preferred field.
More than half (53 percent) of the 2009 graduates surveyed are planning on applying for graduate positions this year. Sixty-three percent of those set to graduate in 2010 also are applying for graduate roles (compared to 50 percent of recent graduates in 2009), leading to far greater competition for positions than in previous years.
This increase in applicants seems to have dented graduate job hunters’ confidence with only 26 percent of those surveyed confident of finding a graduate position this year. Perhaps because of their experiences last year, last year’s graduates are the least confident; just 22 percent are confident of finding a position this year.
These low confidence levels appear to be reflected in graduates’ approach to job hunting with one in five (18 percent) of 2009 graduates applying for any job. What’s more, the majority of graduates were found to be broadening their approach: 59 percent of 2009 graduates are applying for roles across a number of sectors and just 37 percent of all respondents are limiting their applications to positions which tie in with their long-term career goals.
The trend is not limited to the applications stage of the process with two thirds (64 percent) of graduates admitting that they would hedge their bets by accepting more than one job offer: either by picking their preferred option nearer the time or accepting an offer and continuing to look for an alternative, according to the study. This could cause significant problems for graduate recruiters.
“The lack of confidence in today’s graduate marketplace means that jobseekers are increasingly likely to formally accept multiple offers and then make their final decision just before their joining date,” said Clodagh Bannigan, AMS head of client services.“This is, perhaps, understandable in the economic climate but it represents a real challenge to employers. Organizations must factor in this kind of behavior and ensure their strategy will not be adversely affected by applicants dropping out late in the day.”
The research also asked graduates which sectors they perceive as offering the best opportunities. The public sector was identified as the area that offers the best opportunities, with nearly a third (30 percent) ranking it as the top sector. Financial services and banking fared much worse, being ranked lowest by 28 percent of respondents.
“More worrying is the damage that the recent economic crisis has had on employer brands in the banking and financial sector. Employers in this industry have been scrutinized heavily in the last 18 months and this has understandably impacted on their reputations amongst graduates,” Bannigan said. “Businesses in this sector will be able to repair their brands over time, but should be a great concern to organizations that have traditionally been very attractive to university [graduates] and steps should be taken immediately to restore their standing.”