Graduate recruitment not an option for 90% of small and medium-sized businesses

Nearly 90% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) do not intend to recruit graduates during the recession, the Centre for Enterprise has warned.

A poll of 502 companies revealed 88% of SMEs were not planning on recruiting graduates, while 89% have not recruited a graduate in the past year.

Of the firms which said they would not be hiring graduates, 32% said nothing would make them recruit a graduate in the next year. Almost half said they had no job vacancies at any level, while 39% said they did not need graduate-level skills in their business.

However, 48% of firms said they would consider recruiting graduates if the government offered a subsidy to help them do so.

The total number of young people out of work edged towards the one million mark (932,000) in the three months to October 2009.

The survey also revealed that some firms did not understand the difference between A-levels and degrees, meaning thousands of graduates could be being overlooked.

Almost one-third of businesses thought A-levels were graduate-level qualifications, while 18% thought GCSEs were equivalent to a degree, the Guardian has reported.

James Kewin, joint managing director of the Centre for Enterprise, said: “There is not a clear or shared understanding of the term ‘graduate’ among small and medium-sized businesses. There is a clear need to rationalise the plethora of qualification frameworks, levels and agencies that currently litter the education and skills landscape and to develop an easily understandable summary of what is and what isn’t a graduate-level qualification.”

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