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UCL Careers Employer Insights – June 2020

Joe O'Brien9 June 2020

Read time: 2 minutes

Written by Emily Oliphant, Recruitment & Selection Adviser at UCL Careers

A new survey from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) took a snapshot of changes to hiring amongst 179 employers, who shared their insights during the period between 20th April and 4th May. As a group, representing a varied spread across sectors and regions, and even including some smaller employers (small-to-medium enterprises make up a major proportion of graduate destinations for UCL students and nearly 30% of the group surveyed had fewer than 250 employees), their insights show a useful development from our first Employer Insights blog in April 2020 following March research. This new data explores employers’ reactions from a time when the UK was beginning to have discussions about how and when lockdown might potentially come to an end— giving businesses a clearer idea about what sort of recruitment timeline they might be working with.

Where has lockdown had the biggest impact on employers and how?

The greatest impact of the UK lockdown, which began in mid-March, has been notably on small and medium sized employers (those with fewer than 250 employees, and less than 50 million Euro annual turnover). Half of them reported negative responses when asked about the overall impact of the pandemic, with 20% neutral and just 30% positive. Nearly half were most urgently concerned about the financial impact of the lockdown on their ability to survive as a business, and therefore heavily trending towards postponing all hiring plans, or even cancelling job offers, as priorities lie with protecting current staff. Concerns about business sustainability were particularly highlighted in responses from employers in the energy, engineering, and industry sector; the legal and professional services sector; and the retail and FMCG sectors.

What changes to recruitment and on-boarding are being made?

While changes to recruitment plans for all businesses are generally being driven by the financial impact on their business; large employers are also anxious about their ability to support new hires. Some have expressed concern and hesitation about on-boarding new starters and interns completely remotely, whilst they wish to ensure new starters are feel a sense of belonging and students have a meaningful learning experience. Adjustments range from increasing the amount of learning and development available online, to shortening the duration of their learning and development programmes or delaying them altogether.

What are employers plans for recruitment and inductions moving forward?

Despite some firms’ misgivings, adapting to online recruitment and inductions may become the new normal, and catalyse longer-term change into more flexible approaches and greater use of technology. We should expect a long-term move from employers to make greater use of technology in their recruitment processes. Indeed, more than 50% of larger firms actually reported positive reflections on the overall impact of the lockdown! For tips on how to master live and recorded video interviews be sure to check our CareersLab videos on 5 Expert Tips For Live Video Interviews and How to ace video interviews (recorded video interviews).

The shorter term picture is now quite clear – firms are reporting drops in recruitment numbers— not as big as initially feared, but still substantial – and internships and placement numbers are the hardest hit. However, graduate roles are seeing less of a negative impact than non-graduate roles such as apprenticeships. Looking forward to next year, it may be that many employers are still not in a position to plan too far ahead. 40% of surveyed employers still don’t know what their next intake’s numbers will look like, but longer-term changes to their processes of recruitment, and therefore how students should prepare for them, are likely here to stay.

Book an appointment

Do remember that we continue to offer one to one appointments online where you can speak with one of our career professionals to discuss your own personal circumstances.

UCL Careers will continue to keep you abreast of the latest findings in the graduate employment sector. Further blogs will follow summarising this information as well as other useful tips on how to manage your career thinking and planning during these challenging times.

UCL Careers Employer Insights – April 2020

Joe O'Brien22 April 2020

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Have you been wondering how recent events may affect your career plans or employability in the future?

The global shutdown caused by Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the graduate labour market. As well as keeping in touch with professional organisations for labour market updates, UCL Careers have also been actively surveying recruiters and collecting labour market information to learn:

· What employers are predicting in relation to number of internships and graduate roles

· How the current situation is affecting their recruitment methods

· And what it means for those who were due to start a graduate role, internship or work this summer

Will opportunities such as internships and graduate roles still be advertised?

Offices being shut and consequently work being carried out remotely has resulted in many organisations rethinking their recruitment strategies.

Results from an initial survey conducted by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) showed that 27% of employers indicated they would be recruiting fewer entry-level graduate hires and 31% of those surveyed predicted less interns and placement students over the summer. This is disappointing news, which is also mirrored in the current general decrease in the number of vacancies (both internships and graduate level jobs) posted on job vacancy sites. However, it is worth noting that there seemed to be a substantial amount of uncertainty amongst the organisations surveyed. The ISE survey results stated that 28% of employers hiring for graduate roles, and 31% hiring interns and placement students, were still unsure as to what impact this would have on recruitment numbers.

The survey that UCL Careers carried out two weeks later painted a similar picture; 16% of graduate role employers and 31% of internship providers stated that they were still undecided on how their recruitment would look. Some organisations were already able to confirm that their roles would continue. This was more evident amongst those offering graduate roles (44%), whilst only 20% for those offering internship programmes were able to confirm this at the time. In addition, we saw from the survey results that 21% of graduate role employers would be pausing, freezing, or otherwise delaying their recruitment and this was the case for 15% of internship providers.

These results do demonstrate the uncertainty that we are currently seeing across the graduate employment market, both with major recruiters, as surveyed by the ISE and within small-to-medium enterprises as seen in the results of the UCL Careers survey, who make up a major proportion of graduate destinations for UCL students. However, with the indication that some organisations have already confirmed their intention to continue recruiting, as well as the willingness of businesses to adapt to the increase in online and remote working, it is worth noting that opportunities are still being advertised.

We’d encourage you to continue to monitor vacancy sites such as the myUCLCareers jobs board

Are organisations ready to conduct online recruitment?

Of those continuing with their recruitments processes, many seem ready and willing to adapt quickly. From the ISE survey results, we found that 60% of employers had already moved their assessment centres online and 71% had done the same with their interviews by the middle of March. These findings seemed to be echoed in the results of our survey, where 81% of employers were either already prepared to deliver online recruitment or training, or expect to be very soon.

These are reassuring signs that although there has been a shift for recruitment to take place online, the fundamental process and skills required from candidates remain the same.

For tips on how to master live and recorded video interviews be sure to check our CareersLab videos on 5 Expert Tips For Live Video Interviews and How to ace video interviews (recorded video interviews).

I already have a job offer, will it still be honoured?

As well as covering information relating to upcoming vacancies and recruitment, the surveys we looked at considered graduates who already hold an offer for future employment.

Our own survey results illustrated a relatively positive picture, with 68% of responses indicating that they are ready to offer training and inductions at the time of asking, or are expected to be in the near future. In addition, 54% were confident that new starters would be able to commence working remotely, with a further 16% still investigating whether this was possible at the time of asking. Only 7% of organisations stated that they would not be able to do this for some roles.

For those of you who may already have an offer that is due to start in the coming months, it seems that organisations are trying to adapt to conduct inductions online. We’ve seen that some organisations are eager to keep in touch with future new starters through newsletters and establishing online communities. If you have someone within the organisation with whom you could contact, you could reach out to them to seek re-assurance about your position, however it does seem that organisations are still working out these logistics for new starters and therefore they may not be able to offer clarity at this stage.

UCL Careers will continue to carry out research with our existing employers and will keep abreast of the latest findings in the graduate employment sector. Further blogs will follow summarising this information as well as other useful tips on how to manage your career thinking and planning during these challenging times.

Book an appointment

Do remember that we continue to offer one to one appointments online where you can speak with one of our career professionals to discuss your own personal circumstances.

*The main sources of information provided in this post come from an Institute of Student Employers (ISE), an independent not-for-profit association of UK employers who represent a high proportion of top graduate recruiters nationally. They conducted a survey 13th – 20th March, which received 124 responses from large employers who would be major graduate recruiters. UCL Careers carried out their own survey, reaching out to employers who had made use of our jobs board within the last calendar year. This survey was conducted 25th March – 1st April and received responses from 76 employers, the majority of whom were based in the UK. 66% of organisations surveyed were small to medium size enterprises (SMEs), offering the perspective of different employers to those surveyed in the ISE questionnaire.