Companies have been forced to scale down entry-level recruitment programmes as they make business adjustments due to the coronavirus, according to the Institute of Student Employers.
The ISE found that more than a quarter of businesses (27%) plan to reduce the number of graduates they recruit this year and 23% will cut apprenticeship and school leaver programmes.
The virus has also impacted internships and placements, which will be reduced by 31%. More than two-thirds (68%) have cancelled work experience and other taster opportunities.
Around a third of businesses replying to ISE’s survey said they were simply uncertain about their hiring plans, although a third plan to continue with recruitment – albeit moving processes such as interviews (71%) and assessments (60%) online.
Video recruitment companies have reported sharp rises in hiring managers using their platforms – one recorded a 67% spike last week.
At the start of this year, the ISE reported that entry-level recruitment activity was “stagnant”, and the coronavirus crisis will only affect this further.
Chief executive Stephen Isherwood said: “We should expect that although many are still working out how to adjust to coronavirus, the number of entry-level jobs will be less than last year.
“Thousands of young people are supposed to be entering the labour market from July and they could be left without work and nothing to do while coronavirus is sorted out.”
Isherwood warned recruiters not to panic. He added: “The future success of the country and its businesses is bound up with the skills and talents of young people. We need to make sure that a whole generation isn’t lost. We need support for those about to transition from education to work.
Having work experience opportunities cut would damage their chances in a competitive jobs market, he said, while others may have had existing offers reneged or deferred.
He told students not to assume all recruitment would stop: “Don’t panic, there will be jobs and there are things that you can do,” he said. “Stay active in your job hunt, work on your career choices and be flexible. If you have a job offer, make regular contact with your employer as they may be switching to virtual processes.”
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