Does AI Mean The End Of Graduate Recruitment?

Posted by Kate Smedley on 25 May 2016

Graduate recruitment could fall by as much as 50% by 2020 as technology removes the need for entry level jobs, according to the Financial Times. The ‘big four’ accountancy firms, E&Y, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG are automating entry level jobs that would typically be carried out by graduates, suggesting that artificial intelligence may spell the end of graduate recruitment. But for many employers, this is just one of several challenges related to graduates and their employability.

The issues facing graduate employers go beyond automation to include the following:-

Employability of graduates : The government’s latest whitepaper, Success As A Knowledge Economy, highlights the problem of employability among graduates and coincided with calls to improve job prospects for STEM students. Half a million additional workers will be needed in the digital sector by 2020, yet the level of unemployment among computer science graduates stands at 11.7%.  A gap persists between employer expectations of their graduate recruits and University understanding of what is needed. Again, more liaison is required between businesses and educational institutions to ensure appropriate skills are being taught.

Poor quality of apprenticeships : The UK has the second highest level of graduation in the OECD after Iceland but the dual problems of overqualification and the great apprenticeship turn off among young people remain. Following last week’s Queen’s Speech, the CIPD brought attention to the need for quantity over quality in this area. The government’s targets of three million apprenticeships by 2020 should, it recommends, focus on the level of apprenticeships available. At present, 60% are provided at Level 2, equivalent to just 5 passes at GCSE level.

Competing with Europe : UK employers also face competition from Europe for graduate talent. Denmark was recently named as the top employment destination for UK graduates due to its high salaries and low cost of living. The UK came 14th out of 19 countries, its low placing attributed to the expensive rents, high crime rates and a high population density in London.

Google University : The government’s whitepaper also proposed changes to the UK’s education system to allow private employers to establish their own bespoke qualifications, giving rise to suggestions of Google and Facebook ‘University’. In theory these would offer better opportunities to all students and assist employers in creating graduate talent pools with appropriate skills training. Pearson Education is one of a number of private employers which offers its own degree course but how likely the prospect of Google University is remains to be seen.

Is technology the problem?

AI is perceived by many as a global threat to employment, with 35% of all UK jobs predicted to be lost to automation. According to Deloitte, it will result in better quality jobs being created. In the meantime, technology is impacting on the graduate market and changing the nature of the skills required, in areas such as computer science, data analysis and data acquisition.

While routine jobs are being replaced, tech skills are still very much in demand. PwC plans to hire 500 additional data scientists in the next 18 months to 2 years in response to a growing requirement for more data driven insight from both customers and suppliers. Increasing automation is inevitable but it is an issue which employers can address. 

For companies to ensure a constant supply of skills to their business, liaison must continue between Universities and employers with ongoing reviews of talent acquisition practices in the following areas:-

Employer brand : The banking and finance sector is no longer seen as the traditional draw for newly qualified graduates. Universum’s 2016 survey found that tech giants such as Apple and Google are the employers of choice for UK graduates who are attracted by their brand and culture rather than the highest salaries. Employers must align hiring strategies with a positive employer brand to source top young talent.

Implement anonymised CVs : Concern remains regarding bias in recruitment as graduates from wealthy families were found to earn more than their poorer counterparts by the Institute of Fiscal Studies. Support your hiring with recruitment software to reduce potential bias and expand your traditional talent pool.

Effective onboarding : Graduate recruits must be supported with effective onboarding to ensure successful integration within your business. HR technology takes care of the basics, allowing employers to focus on training and welcoming new graduates to a working environment which they are often unprepared for.

Anticipate changes : As data driven insights fuel business strategies across all sectors, employers must anticipate demand for future skills and adjust talent acquisition processes to meet those demands. Data provided by sophisticated recruitment software enables HR to understand and predict changes in hiring needs.

Advorto’s world class recruitment software provides a straightforward first step into HR analytics and automation to help you predict future graduate hiring needs. Find out more. Contact us today.

You might also like to read:-

Will High Levels Of Graduate Debt Lead To A Talent Exodus?

UK Employers Must Invest In Young People Or Face A Permanent Skills Crisis

For in-depth analysis of the trends affecting the banking and finance industry, download your copy of our sector focus here.


Topics: graduate recruitment

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