10 things students should know about the UK graduate labour market

 

As 2019 begins here is a myth busting insight into the graduate recruitment market.

University of Leeds Careers Adviser Suzie Bullock  summarises the keynote speech from the Institute of Student Employers conference delivered in December 2018, by:

Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, and Charlie Ball, Head of HE Intelligence at Graduate Prospects.  For more information, see the full presentation: 10 things you should know about the graduate recruitment market

So, the UK graduate labour market, what should you know?

  1. It doesn’t exist.
    Instead there is a series of discrete, usually urban regional labour markets that often influences the markets around them.  Remember, most people in the UK are not graduates and most jobs are not at graduate level.
  2. It is quite stable.
    The past is a fairly accurate guide to the future. Graduate jobs next year will probably be the same jobs as last year. Don’t expect radical changes. Graduates should see a steady salary increase.
  3. It doesn’t look too bad right now.
    For graduates, the recession ended in 2013. There is low unemployment among graduates and the postgraduate career development loan system is working. But warning signs are showing.
  4. The B word.
    A recession is looming and that, combined with Brexit, is likely to lead to economic vulnerability. Recruitment is slowing down but the impact on graduates is less.
  5. Place matters.
    London is the biggest graduate job market in the country, followed by: Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – around a third of all graduates started work in these four cities in 2017 .  London is the least cost effective city to live in, Derby is the best, with Sheffield, Newcastle, Plymouth and Southampton close behind. Graduates are becoming concentrated in larger cities with local towns finding it hard to recruit graduates.  The cost of living is making graduates less mobile – to live in London it is estimated that a starting salary of £29,000 would only just cover the cost of living. This is having an effect on employers and, for example, PwC is moving out of London to more regional centres as they recognised that only a third of graduates wanted to move to London.
  6. Employers are using a mix of approaches to recruitment selection.
    While most employers say they rely more on a competency-based approach, 55% are combining approaches to include competency-based questions alongside strengths- based questions, technical questions and values-based questions. Employers continue to use different approaches to recruitment with 89% of Institute of Student Employers’ organisations reporting that they use assessment centres, 71% use psychometric tests, 71% use face to face interviews, 66% screen CVs, 58% screen by degree classification and 39% screen by phone interview.
  7. There is a significant shortage of graduates now.
    There are severe shortages in these roles: nurses; programmers and software development professionals; HR and recruitment; medical practitioners; welfare and housing associate professionals; business sales executives; IT user support technicians; sales account and business development managers; marketing associate professionals; general and specialist engineers; managers and directors in retail and wholesale; design and development engineers; web design and development professionals; vets; chartered and certified accountants.
  8. Life isn’t fair.
    Former public and independent school pupils dominate the UK labour market. But employers say they want to increase their intake of students from state schools and improve the diversity of their workforce so are trying out blind recruitment techniques and removing potential barriers, such as UCAS points.
  9. Graduate schemes aren’t everything.
    Other options to consider are larger companies recruiting ‘direct to desk’; large companies that aren’t big enough to have a graduate scheme; SMEs; non-graduate roles; and self-employment.  30% of graduates went to work for companies with fewer than 250 employees.
  10. There is a lot we don’t know.
    Most data comes from very early in a graduate’s career. Someone graduating in 2018 is likely to still be working in 2070. Based on those figures, someone retiring now, would have started work in 1966.

Remember, we are here to help you with all things career related;  making choices or plans, supporting you with applications, interviews and more.  See our Careers Centre website for details on how we can help you.

 

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How I got my job in Medical Communications

In June 2017 Abigail Heffer graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 in BSc Biological Sciences (Ind), she now works at ApotheCom as a Senior Account Executive.  Abigail  secured a placement year at Roche during her studies- with CV support from the Careers Centre.   Follow Abigail’s journey from University of Leeds student to the rewarding, dynamic, fast paced world of Medical Communications.

Applying for a placement year

From relatively early on in my degree, I knew a lab-based career wouldn’t be for me. I wanted the buzz of an office, and to have a role that necessitated communicating with a wide range of different people and personalities. An office-based role in the pharmaceutical industry seemed like it might be a good fit, and so at the beginning of my second year at University I applied for industrial placements with the major players – Pfizer; GSK; AstraZeneca; Johnson & Johnson – but with no success.

Careers Centre support

I hadn’t previously considered visiting the University Careers Centre, but as something in my applications wasn’t hitting the mark, I turned to them for support. The Career Advisers were incredibly helpful, making some key tweaks to my CV and covering letters that would help me stand out from other candidates. Multiple applications and many mock interviews later, I was very happy to find out that I had been offered a placement with Roche in their Clinical Operations department, Welwyn Garden City.

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A career in Recruitment – what’s it all about?

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University of Leeds English & Philosophy graduate Annie Moss completed her degree studies in 2018, she now works for Xpertise Recruitment.  Annie’s placement year in a recruitment consultancy  helped her to understand that this fast paced challenging, rewarding profession was for her.  Here she offers insight and advice on how it could be the right career for you.

How I got into Recruitment

I graduated in 2018 from Leeds University with an industrial degree in English and Philosophy, then I went straight into recruitment. Possibly not the most obvious choice considering my degree background, but definitely the right one for me.

I got into recruitment when I was researching industries for my placement year. I didn’t know anything about recruitment at this stage and was looking at roles in marketing, supply-chain, HR, (you name it, I applied for it)!  Then I came across recruitment and after spending one day in the office to have a look round, I realised that it was a really good fit for me.

Why a career in recruitment?

Because recruitment is a fast-paced, lucrative, challenging profession. In the words of my manager, “if you want to progress in your career and achieve your financial goals quickly, then recruitment is a great industry to be in.”

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How I got my job: Digital Marketing and PR

Lucy Bolland

Lucy Bolland graduated in 2017 in MA Advertising and Marketing from the University of Leeds. Currently an Outreach SEO & PR Specialist at Hub MDP she also has her own blog Life of Luce. Before moving to Leeds to study she completed a BA in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland.

My first graduate job

In September 2017, roughly two hours after handing in my dissertation, I bagged myself a role as a Marketing Assistant at a designer ladieswear shop in Sheffield. I ultimately wanted to stay in Leeds, but with huge competition from other graduates and no real digital experience other than my own blog and social media channels, I began to realise how I may have to make personal sacrifices at this early point in my career.

In my first role since graduating from my masters, I discovered more about a website’s CMS (Content Management System). I’d very much recommend setting up a blog before graduating, as I already knew the basics of navigating a websites backend which really helped me with my first role.  I also learnt the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which would then lead me into my next role.

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How I got my job: Graduate GIS Consultant, Delta Simons

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This article was guest written by Ryan Bell, who works for Delta Simons and is a graduate in Physical Geography.

My role

My role as a Graduate GIS¹ Consultant involves establishing and developing GIS capabilities for Delta-Simons Environmental Consultancy. To provide some context, this involves a full set-up of a functioning system to introduce GIS as a service within the company, which includes aspects such as: identifying the most suitable system, identifying employee data requirements, database management, and template creation. Other responsibilities include GIS maintenance, solving of technical queries, providing training to employees, conducting analysis for technical reports, and developing efficiencies whilst maintaining business-as-usual activities. As the GIS workload fluctuates during its introductory phase, my role also provides opportunity to gain exposure to the range of environmental disciplines that Delta-Simons specialise in, such as flood risk and ecology.

Securing the role

The experiences which have helped me to secure the role at Delta-Simons began with the decision to extend my degree with an industrial placement. Initially, I wasn’t convinced that it would be worthwhile to invest a year of my time in a field that I may not be interested in.

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Your first employee handbook: what to look out for

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This guest post was written by Jamie Costello, a Business & Communications student based in Manchester, drawing on experience working alongside Manchester solicitors and business law specialists Gorvins. As a freelance writer, Jamie writes on topics ranging from employment to strategy planning for entrepreneurs. Jamie can be found on Twitter at @Jamie88Costello.

Some new jobs will provide you with an employee handbook. The majority of the time it tends to be the larger businesses that publish these to their staff, but if you happen to be provided one, it’s good to know what you should be looking out for to protect yourself in your role. Here’s an outline of what you should be wary of.

Standard of Conduct

When you first step into a place of work, your main aim is to remain professional and conduct yourself appropriately. On occasion, some staff members can become laid back with their attitude within the working environment. For example, dress codes are provided as a guide on what attire is deemed appropriate in the workplace. In some cases your colleagues may adjust their attire for their own comfort, such as some staff choosing to wear all black trainers rather than shoes that would otherwise hurt their feet. If this is the case, you may be inclined to do the same, but be sure that the attire you choose is within reason. Read thoroughly through the rest of the conduct section so you’re aware of how you should conduct yourself at work, as this discusses disciplinary action and related policies. Serious breaches of conduct can escalate, with some cases becoming legal matters.

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Why take a Careers module? My experience with ‘Career Planning for POLIS Students’

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This blog post was written by POLIS student Sam Greet about his experience on the module Career Planning for POLIS Students.

When I was looking at my module choices for second semester, I wasn’t sure I had made the right choices back in September. My first lecture for one of my choices really didn’t suit me and I knew I had to think of something else to move onto, but amongst the array of discovery and optional modules I really struggled to narrow down exactly onto something I wanted to do.

Finding the right module

A module that I had originally glanced over (but not given much thought to) was the Career Planning for POLIS Students module. When it was getting closer to deadline for changing modules, I still had yet to find anything that really spoke to me from the traditional module list and I revisited the careers module in more depth. What I found was a comprehensive programme of teaching, with extended seminar sessions and no lectures that looked to develop all manner of skills and employability. However, I remained unsure about what this would really amount to in practice.

I’ll admit that I was at first concerned with academic rigour, as I very much enjoyed traditional subjects and essays, and was performing well with these. I decided to seek out lecturers and staff members to discuss the POLIS Careers module, and I was immediately reassured of the module’s immense value. Ultimately this convinced me to take the plunge and switch – and I can say that this was one of the best decisions I have made in my second semester.

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