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

Posted by Kate Smedley on 28 Apr 2016

English graduates have the highest levels of debt in the English speaking world according to a report released today from the Sutton Trust. English students graduated last year owing over £44,000 in fees each on average. This figure is predicted to rise to £50,000 for students from less wealthy backgrounds when maintenance grants are abolished in September 2016.

Rising student debt is fuelling fears that the UK may lose bright students to Ivy League Universities such as Harvard, or even to Germany where fees are minimal and courses in English are on the rise. The cost of University education leaves English graduates facing nearly double the average level of debt compared to the US, where four year courses are the norm – and higher than other English speaking countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Recommendations from the study include the development of high level apprenticeship courses to avoid the need for loans. To achieve this, in part, the government is taking steps to make apprenticeships more attractive to employers. Recent initiatives include:-

  • Employer NI contributions have been demolished from 6th April 2016 for all apprentices under the age of 25.
  • Introduction of £10m in funding for degree apprenticeships.
  • Creation of the Institute for Apprenticeships by April 2017, when the apprenticeship levy comes into force. The intention is to empower employers in the development of apprenticeship schemes that meet demand for key skills.

The problem here is twofold:-

  • As we have discussed in a previous article, attempts to convince young people of the value of apprenticeships are failing.
  • Employers invest on average just £109 per employee per year in key areas such as digital skills training, according to a Barclays report, relying on young recruits to arrive in the workplace equipped with the qualifications and capabilities their business needs.

In the meantime, a new survey ‘Where The Work Is’[1] found that most employers are struggling to source entry level talent across a number of industry sectors.

Whether soaring debt leads to an exodus of graduate talent remains to be seen but, as apprenticeships remain bottom of the pile of career options for young people, UK businesses are adopting innovative ways to attract top graduate talent and highly skilled candidates, in addition to standard recruitment strategies. For example:-

Debut : Growing numbers of employers are connecting with students through a recently introduced app that utilises gamification to identify and attract top talent. Careers app Debut is now used by over 41 brands including Microsoft, Google and Lloyds Bank. Fast tracked job applications and internships are on offer for outstanding students. Launched in March 2016, Debut is widely promoted as a platform for graduates to secure their dream job.

Brand ambassadors : The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers revealed Aldi in second position behind PwC, the first time a retailer has featured in the top two. Aldi’s strategy for success includes positioning 55 brand ambassadors at 28 target universities in the UK, engaging with young talent through social media on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and a careers site that provides a true sense of company culture.  At £42,000, starting salaries are also competitive and graduates are offered a defined career progression plan.

Anonymised CVs : Anonymous CVs which exclude names or University details are an essential tool to prevent unconscious bias in graduate recruitment and expand talent pools to enable employers to identify high achievers, regardless of their social background or University path.

Incorporate recruitment software : Effective graduate recruitment strategies require continued innovation in order to connect with talent at early stages and position your business as an inspirational employer brand. To compete in a global marketplace, support your hiring with modern recruitment software to capture qualified candidates as they enter your recruitment funnel.

Avoid the potential talent exodus. Support your graduate recruitment strategy with HR technology used by some of the world’s leading organisations.

Contact to find out more.

You might also like to read:-

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

5 Strategies To Interrupt Unconscious Bias In Your Hiring Process

Image Credit :

[1] Source :

Topics: graduate recruitment

About Recruitment 2.0

Latest industry information and discussions about recruitment, talent management and HR online systems.

See all our blog posts.

Subscribe to Email Updates

About Kallidus Recruit

When recruitment gets serious, we're here to provide information on reducing cost of and time to hire, while maintaining the quality of your candidates. This blog aims to provide information, expert help and discussions across the entire talent recruitment life-cycle.

Please feel free to contact us by either starting a discussion in this group or by registering for future updates.

Try our ATS

Recent Posts