The surge in graduates in the UK workforce is not necessarily a positive trend for the economy, according to the CIPD. For example:-
- 35% of new hires in the positions of post office and bank clerks are now graduates, compared to 3.5% in 1979.
- 9% of police officers entering the police force as sergeants or lower now hold degrees compared to 2%.
Similar increases are shown in occupations including teaching assistants (36.9% compared to 5.6% in 1999) and property and estate management (41% compared to 3.6% in 1979).
The skills required to perform these jobs have not changed, which calls into question the value – and in some cases longevity - of degrees. At the same time, The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) also reports that the number of graduate vacancies has also fallen by 8% in the past 12 months.
The issue appears to be not simply that there are too many graduates but that the numbers of graduates with the right skills falls short of what employers need. This comes at a time when Manpower reports that the global talent shortage has reached its highest level since 2007.
Apprenticeships aren’t working
The alternatives to higher education are not yet effective in terms of skills training or attracting young people. PwC’s Young Workers Index 2016 notes that the UK ranks 21st out of 35 OCED countries for the number of young people in employment, education and training.
The CIPD has called for higher level and better quality apprenticeships, coupled with effective careers advice, to ensure that young people are equipped with relevant skills. Echoing their concern, The Education, Skills and the Economy Committee has also called for this issue to be urgently addressed.
Some changes have been made. Planned cuts to apprenticeship funding for 16 to 18 year olds have been put on hold. Government spending on apprentices will now be doubled to in excess of £60million, targeted at the most deprived areas of the UK. The Apprenticeship Levy, effective from April 2017, will also provide more funding for employers hiring apprentices in areas which include healthcare and education. The biggest challenge will be overcoming perception of the apprenticeship 'brand'. Concerns over quality aside, apprenticeships are still not regarded as having the same value as higher education for young people.
Creating graduate training schemes to attract talent
That leaves employers competing to attract the top graduate talent at a time when concerns over Brexit are believed to be behind a 9% drop in applications to British universities from EU students. To attract young people with relevant skills, employers should consider the following steps:-
Clarify the job requirements : Hiring graduates for non-graduate jobs leads to lower levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction. Analyse your job description and the skills needed to ensure graduate level candidates are necessary for all of your open positions which state that a degree is required.
Pay your interns : The government is considering a ban on unpaid internships in a bid to improve social mobility and make it easier for young people from low income families to secure jobs in sectors such as banking and finance. Companies offering paid internships include KPMG and EY.
Be flexible : Managing expectations is a challenge for some graduate employers who adhere to a broad ‘one size fits all’ training scheme. Provide the opportunity for ongoing conversations with your graduate trainees and listen to their responses. Mentoring, the chance to learn new skills and testing the capabilities of your graduate hires all improve the success of training schemes and your employer brand.
Offer perks : Retailer Aldi regularly ranks highly in the UK’s top graduate employers list, with its generous starting salary of £42,000 and a company car. Their training scheme is rigorous and challenging but consistently attracts high levels of applicants. HR analytics will enable you to evaluate whether salary and perks are factors in your ability to attract talent.
Provide meaning : Offer meaning and a wider relevance to your graduate career paths. Young people are looking for corporate social responsibility and a job that goes beyond normal boundaries and definitions.
Build technical and soft skills : The UK faces a national digital skills shortage. On the job training and career development should come as a standard policy within your graduate recruitment scheme. Manpower found that the number of employers investing in training of existing employees to address skills gaps has doubled.
Be creative to attract the top talent : Gamification engages high achievers and holds their attention through the hiring process. It also promotes an innovative employer brand image. While there is a surplus of graduates in the jobs market, key skills remain in short supply. High Fliers reported that 1,000 graduates turned down job offers at the last minute in 2015. Used effectively gamification can become viral and increase your job offer to acceptance ratio.
Support with HR technology : HR software streamlines your hiring process, helping you improve key recruitment metrics and create a more robust hiring strategy. Support your graduate recruitment with HR technology used by some of the world’s leading organisations.
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You might also like to read:-
Improve Your Graduate Recruitment Success In 2017
HR In Crisis : Overcoming The Digital Skills Shortage
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