According to the Institute of Student Employer’s (ISE) Student Recruitment Survey 2021, each graduate vacancy received an average of 91 applications, a 17 per cent increase over 2020, and an ISE record.
Jobs in health and pharmaceuticals were the most popular, with 155 persons applying per vacancy, while financial and professional services came in second with 118 applications per vacancy.
Considering a 9% increase in graduate employment openings in the last year, pre-pandemic levels have yet to be seen.
“This highlights the genuine struggle for young people to find work during the pandemic,” said Stephen Isherwood, CEO of the Institute of Student Employer (ISE). “Despite employers wanting more young people than last year, there just aren’t enough roles and we’re not yet back to 2019 levels.”
Career advancement was also included in the survey, as it has been one of the pandemic’s major fatalities, with prospects reducing by around a third by 2020. In 2021, 60% of former interns and placement students were hired into graduate positions, according to the poll, which “highlighted the value of work experience in gaining a graduate career.”
Internships grew by 23% and work placements by 7% overall, with a median of 83 and 82 applicants for each internship and work placement, respectively. There was a 2% uptick in internship applications, but a 17% decline in work placement applications, according to those figures.
“Competition for jobs has been fierce but, assuming the economy continues to recover, things should get easier over the next year when we expect a return to pre-pandemic hiring,” said Isherwood.
Earlier this year, ISE collaborated on a project with the International Student Employability Group to weather the storm on a global scale.
Recruiting International Graduates: A Guide for Employers attempted to clarify the various options for hiring international graduates, regardless of where they studied or where they call home. It also explained the new graduate path, which permits graduates from outside the UK to work in the UK for up to two years – or three years if they have a PhD – while looking for work. It also looked at the skilled worker route, indicating that in some cases, workers can begin before they have completed their training.
While companies expect growth “across all fields” to continue and to reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, Isherwood offered some advice to people looking for work. “Students shouldn’t spray and pray. They are not the people who get the jobs, it’s better to target and tailor, and make the right application to the right employer,” he explained. “University careers teams are there to help with this process and will be able to offer the best advice.”