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Grads worried about job prospects post-Brexit

Ahead of the next meaningful vote tonight on Theresa May's amended Brexit deal, research finds graduates fear similar repercussions to the impact of the 2008 financial crash on grads

Most graduates (78%) think that Brexit will negatively affect their careers, according to research by Milkround.

A further 52% of this year’s graduate pool think it will be more difficult to secure a graduate role, similarly to the period following the 2008 financial crash.

Half (50%) of those that graduated during the global financial crisis said they found it more difficult to secure a graduate job because of the crash, taking an average of eight months to find their first career job. Ten years on, three-fifths (58%) say the 2008 crisis had a negative impact on their career.

The financial crisis also in some cases obstructed 2008 graduates' entry into their desired field, with half (50%) saying they had to change their post-university plans and three-fifths (62%) taking a job in a different sector because of lack of available roles.

Milkround warned that this year’s graduates are taking a similar approach to delaying their entry into the job market, with 55% planning to postpone looking for their first role. Sixty per cent expect to take a position in a different sector, 18% think they will need to do temporary work and 9% plan to go travelling instead. The results also reveal a 15% rise in the number of graduates planning to take up a postgraduate qualification rather than heading straight into work.

When asked how they thought the financial crisis has affected their salary, almost half (44%) of 2008 graduates say it has not increased as much as the salaries of those graduating in previous years. Those due to graduate in 2019 have similarly low salary expectations, with more than a third (36%) not expecting standard salary increases post-Brexit.

Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public policy at King’s College London, confirmed that many are still dealing with the fallout of the 2008 financial crash.

“Economic crises leave scars. More than a decade later the British economy is still suffering from the after-effects of the financial crisis. This research shows that the effects were particularly severe for those who entered the labour market at that time; who found it more difficult to find jobs and haven’t seen the career or pay progression that they expected,” he said.

However, the outlook may not be as negative as upcoming graduates assume. Researchers said that despite the negative perception this year’s grads have of the current job market, the Office for National Statistics' labour market research shows the number of people in work in the UK continues to reach record highs. In addition, Milkround has seen the number of graduate roles advertised on its platform increase by 104% year on year.

Portes added that, while the labour market is strong, a negative outlook among graduates is not surprising. “This has particular resonance today. Given the current healthy state of the UK labour market it might seem surprising how pessimistic 2019’s prospective graduates are about the impact of Brexit. But history suggests that they are right to be worried. Brexit may well prove not just to be a short-term economic shock, but to do long-lasting damage to young people’s career prospects,” he said.

“Given the uncertainties, new graduates will need to be flexible and adaptable – that may mean accepting jobs in a different sector or location to their first preference if it gives them a foot on the ladder.”

Speaking to HR magazine, Georgina Brazier, marketing manager at Milkround, advised employers to reach out to graduates in person to ease concerns.

It’s up to employers to be focusing on their attraction strategies to ensure they are easing the minds of students and up-and-coming graduates. We know from research that engaging with students face to face boosts not only the knowledge that students have of a company, but also allows them to pose questions they may not feel comfortable asking within the application process,” she said.

“As an employer are you getting onto campus or meeting students elsewhere? Make sure you focus on quality over quantity. One way of doing this would be to set up networking events as opposed to just attending careers fairs. This will help students feel more confident about forging a relationship with your company and will also help you find the best talent.”

Milkround surveyed 613 graduates from 2019 between 3 and 18 February 2019.