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What impact will COVID-19 have on graduate recruitment?

  • June 29, 2020
What impact will COVID-19 have on graduate recruitment?

We are currently facing the greatest economic and social disruption most of us have ever experienced and while there is a large uncertainty as to how long this will last, we do know that we are only just in the early stages.

Most organisations now have their continuity plans in place along with the new norm that is emerging with remote working, and everyone with an interest in business wants to know how this disruption is going to affect them and the economy in general.

Is there anything to learn from previous recessions?

In 2008 economic analysts believed that the graduate market would suffer very badly and were proved wrong. It did suffer nonetheless, but to a much lesser extent than was anticipated. Therefore, this time the graduate market will indeed suffer but probably not as badly as people think.

In the early 90’s recession, graduate schemes had closed down, and the graduate market took a steep downturn which took several years to resolve. During the recovery period it was evident that employers didn’t have enough new hires to capitalise and it was assumed that the 2008 recession would follow suit.

However, in 2008, employers had by then learned from previous recessions and very few had closed their graduate schemes. This led to a strong regrowth of the graduate economy, and at this early stage it isn’t unwise to assume the same will happen again.

What do we know now?

According to recent research from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), for the large majority it seems are not yet looking to change recruitment this year. Just under 50% have said that they plan to continue to hire graduates, with a similar trend for apprentice and school leaver hires. Overall, just 27% are looking to reduce graduate hires. 

What can we take away from all of this? 

  • Long term graduate hires are still sought after by employers.
  • The majority of graduate schemes are still going ahead at the moment.
  • At the moment, some sectors are in a much higher demand than others - Health and social care professionals, IT and professionals in infrastructure.

We are in uncharted territory right now and nobody can really be certain as to what is really going to happen next, however the future doesn’t seem bleak by any means.

If The Graduate Project can be of any assistance, please call us on 0207 043 4629 or send in your CV to