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Graduate job struggles as employers cut back on recruitment

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Habiba Khatoon, director of Robert Walters UK, said graduates are experiencing “considerable roadblocks” as employers cut back on their intake in response to difficult economic conditions.

READ MORE: Scottish jobs demand ‘deteriorates sharply’ report finds

More than half of UK employers, 57%, told Robert Walters that they are hiring less graduates this year, with 26% stating “a little less” and 31% saying “a lot less”. When asked why, 39% cited limited hiring budgets, 25% said they had less capacity to train or upskill, and 22% said their focus had shifted to hiring more senior talent.

Figures released in April by job search engine Adzuna suggest that jobs for graduates are drying up at double the pace of the rest of the labour market, with stiff competition for vacancies leaving salaries flat. This comes on top of reports last year of a contraction in graduate jobs alongside low entry-level pay.

“With the economy still sluggish, many employers are holding onto their existing workforce – but students are continuing to graduate at the same pace – leading to a consistent funnel of graduates vying over a drought of positions,” Ms Khatoon said.

READ MORE: Number of Scots in work falls by 38,000 over three months

“Not only that, but when graduates do secure a position – they will most likely encounter even difficulties trying to live on their earnings – with starting salaries experiencing the lowest rates of growth in three years.”

She added that while it was natural for companies to respond in this way to tougher economic conditions, failure to establish a graduate hiring and retention strategy can store up problems for the future.

“Employers overlooking these professionals may be saving on headcount costs now but they will run the risk of talent bottlenecks three to five years on, leading to considerable premiums and competition placed on particular roles – something which we saw dominate the period of hiring directly following Covid within accountancy and legal services,” she said.

 

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