Graduate confidence in job market decreases

Only a third (33%) of graduates are confident about securing a role after university due to coronavirus, according to Bright Network’s latest insight report

Findings from What Do Graduates Want? Data Insights From the Future Workforce showed that 80% of this year’s graduates are worried that COVID-19 will affect their university grades and 83% felt under more pressure due to its uncertainty.

The pandemic has also caused changes to the market for graduate jobs, with 63% of student applications for grad jobs either put on pause or withdrawn by the company.

This contrasts with earlier results before the pandemic struck which found nearly a half (49%) are now confident about securing a grad role.

Many graduates have taken steps to volunteer or work in areas to support vulnerable people through the pandemic, such as working for the NHS or a delivery or supermarkt service.

In order to achieve a good work life balance, graduates prioritised roles that offer flexible working (34%) over wellbeing benefits such as cheaper gym membership (11%) or job progression (10%).

The report also found state school-educated graduates feel “significantly” less prepared than their private school counterparts to enter the world of work.

Half (49%) of private school educated students said they felt prepared compared with 42%.

Similarly, a third (30%) of state school-educated graduates said they felt their background had hindered them in an application process for work or academic study, compared with 21% of privately-educated graduates.

Those who attended state school graduates also expect a salary in five years’ time that is almost £8,000 less than those who were privately educated.

James Uffindell, founder and CEO of Bright Network, said: “This year's research has highlighted a real change in mentality about the future workforce. In these uncertain times, graduates need all the help they can get to understand what the opportunities are, and how best to find them.

It’s incumbent on universities, employers and services like ours to step up our support to ensure graduates are getting into the right careers – helping to rebuild an economy that will have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

What Do Graduates Want? Data Insights From the Future Workforce is a survey of 5,000 students and the fifth annual report from Bright Network on graduate attitudes entering the workforce.

It was conducted in December 2019-Jan 2020 and updates in March on the COVID-19 insights.

Further reading:

Closing the skills gap for graduate employees

Internships "crucial" for non-Russel Group graduates

Higher education has greater salary impact for men