Graduate recruitment predicted to withstand recession

Recruitment experts do not expect graduate recruitment to halt off despite the economy edging towards a recession.

Currently, the Bank of England forecasts that the UK economy will soon enter into recession and stay there for over a year.

Indeed, the Financial Times recently reported that some of the biggest employers, including Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google, are already putting the brakes on hiring.

However, Dan Hawes, co-founder at Graduate Recruitment Bureau, said that with candidate demand still high, graduate recruitment could buck expectations this time around.

He told HR magazine: “Unlike other recessions the context this time is very different. There is a tight labour supply, strong recruiter demand and other demographic factors which we think result in a graduate recruitment market not so badly impacted.”

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A global Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) study from February and March 2022 corroborates this view.

It found that nine in 10 corporate recruiters expect to hire masters in management graduates in 2022, a figure which has risen from 79% in 2021.

Although these plans to hire might be expected to slow in a recession Charlie Ball, graduate labour market expert at digital higher education company Jisc, said that with the overall available workforce shrinking, recruitment outcomes will be uncertain.

He told HR magazine: “We don’t really know how this unusual set of circumstances will affect demand. We would ordinarily assume a falling-off of graduate recruitment, but it will far from cease entirely.

“Employers will continue to recruit graduates whatever the situation in the coming months and graduates with the skills businesses want and the ability to articulate and demonstrate them will remain in demand."

However, Stephen Isherwood CEO at Institute of Student Employers, added that despite current graduate recruitment demand economic reality may kick in and impact budget.

He told HR magazine: "Historically the graduate recruitment market ebbs and flows with economic times. Depending on the severity of a downturn, short-term needs to cut budgets may impact graduate hiring."

If budgets are cut, GRB’s Hawes said that recruitment and talent acquisition teams can still build business cases for keeping hold of their graduate recruitment budgets.

He added: “My first step would be to try for more budget/resource by building a strong business case to the c-suite to demonstrate the downsides of not recruiting graduates in order to future-proof your firm.”

Similarly, Tania Bowers, global public policy director at APSCo said that she hopes that despite short-term economic difficulty predicted she hopes employers take a long-term view.

She told HR magazine: “In the past, it’s been all too easy to look at ‘right-sizing’ the business as the economy slows down, but given the focus on skills attraction and retention we’ve experienced recently, we hope employers are wary of reducing investment in future skills, including graduate hires, too swiftly.”