Too few applicants to fill graduate roles, say employers

Nearly two-fifths (38%) of employers believe that there are too few graduates to fill entry-level vacancies, despite high youth unemployment rates, new research has found.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds hit 1.04 million in January, equating to 22.3% of that age group.

However, XpertHR’s annual survey of graduate recruitment found that many employers faced barriers when trying to recruit graduates, with poor-quality applicants cited as the biggest problem. Four-fifths (80%) of those surveyed said they faced difficulties recruiting graduates due to a lack of skills, knowledge or the attitudes of the candidates.

Perhaps more worryingly, the second biggest problem employers faced when filling graduate roles was candidates accepting job offers then withdrawing from them, which more than two-fifths (44%) of organisations said they had encountered.

The findings are similar to last week’s survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which found that one-third of employers had failed to meet their targets on recruitment in 2010-11 because of a lack of candidates with the right skills.

The XpertHR survey of 182 employers did find some small signs for optimisim, though, with three-quarters (76%) of organisations reporting that they were currently looking to recruit graduates and 89% forecasting that they would be recruiting them in the future.

Rachel Suff, author of the report, commented: “Before the onset of the recession in the UK in 2008, there was generally a healthy balance between the supply of, and the demand for, graduates in the labour market.

“Since 2008, that balance has been skewed heavily in favour of supply, with employer demand for graduate recruits having weakened across most sectors of the economy.”

The full results of the research, including the most effective candidate-attraction methods cited by employers, are available on XpertHR.

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