Demand for graduates increases

The demand for new graduates has been picking up over the past two years, and looks set to continue in the next year, according to a study by Personnel Today’s sister title IRS Employment Review.
Employers who recruit new graduates reported a strong demand in 2004-5; more than half (51.9%) wanted to recruit as many as in the previous year; three in 10 (30.8%) wanted to recruit more and only one in six (17.3%) reduced graduate recruitment.
The picture looks steady, with no material changes in the labour market for new graduates. There has been no boom and the growth in graduate vacancies has simply kept pace with university output.

This means that the difficulties employers face in recruiting suitable graduates have not increased overall. Nevertheless, 40% of organisations have problems recruiting the graduates they need.
The modest upswing in demand is matched by an equally modest rise in the median starting salary for new graduates, which has increased by just 3%.
Other key points include:

  • The growing proportion of graduates with good degrees – firsts and 2:1s – is making it more difficult to choose between applicants or to use degree class a main pre-selection or shortlisting criterion
  • Age discrimination legislation is not expected to have a substantial impact on graduate recruitment but the full implications will not become clear until case law develops as the courts interpret the new regulations from October next year
  • Graduate recruitment continues to peak in October-November and January-March. Timing is seen as crucial – usually before students have gained their degree
  • The most effective attraction methods are national newspaper advertising and recruiters’ corporate websites and job boards
  • 80% of graduate recruiters have their own websites or use pages on their organisation’s main website. However, one in three is unaware that disability discrimination law applies to online recruitment
  • Online application methods are the most popular and used by 65.9% of employers (only 40% still use paper-based formats.

IRS Employment Review recruitment and retention editor, Neil Rankin, said: “Our latest survey shows that new graduates can continue to feel confident about their job prospects.
“The picture may be less rosy, however, for graduates with disabilities if they are job hunting online. One in three of the graduate recruiters who use increasingly popular online methods are unaware or unclear that the Disability Discrimination Act applies to these methods.

“Employers are going to have to get to grips with this important issue if they are not to fall foul of the law.”

This is the 14th in the annual series of graduate recruitment studies from IRS Employment Review and is based on information from 139 recruiters of new graduates, across a broad range of UK employers.

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