There has been a steady increase in the number of graduates in the UK over the past decade and, from a HR perspective, university leavers provide a rich pool of talent. However, according to research from Universities UK, one in three graduates are being ‘mismatched’ to jobs they find after university. Consequently, retention of this group is becoming difficult, with the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) revealing 20% leave their first job within a year of completing a development programme.
Challenges around retaining entry level recruits, which companies invest time and resources in training and developing, may, in part, explain why two in five of the UK’s largest graduate employers are said to be cutting the number of university leavers they take on. However, businesses which fail to tap into this valuable talent pool – by offering well-matched roles which inspire and engage new starters – risk losing the brightest talent to the competition.
This is where HR can step in. Large corporations which commonly roll out grad schemes are now being more selective in their recruits, while an influx of university leavers keen to experience the working world and develop professionally are entering the workforce. In today’s market, amid the constant ‘war for talent’, an increasing number of businesses are realising the benefits of offering opportunities for entry level talent. However, while the career options that university leavers have are expanding, many within this group are still instinctively drawn to corporations and professions which have historically been championed by careers advisors and families alike. By promoting the opportunities within their own business and sectors, HR leaders can capitalise on the shifting landscape.
Professional recruitment, for example, is a sector which is ripe with opportunity. Currently worth over £3 billion globally and growing, the discipline is transforming rapidly each day and changing people’s lives through finding them a job – but a career in recruitment is not something that many graduates aspire to. With uncapped earning potential, international travel and the chance to become a business owner all within reach, you would expect millennials eager for a role offering excitement and versatility to jump at the chance to work in this area. However, unlike other professions, which have the advantage of established career structures - and arguably more buy-in from schools and parents - recruitment has not always been promoted as a viable career path for university leavers making crucial decisions about their future. It’s in sectors such as recruitment that HR needs to implement strategies to change widely-held perceptions.
We must re-think ways to communicate with next generation talent and divert their eyes to less-obvious opportunities. For employers, a diverse workforce is one that results in new insight, experience and expertise and this is what our focus must turn to, if we are to stand the best chance in attracting and retaining great talent for the future.