Graduate celebrating

The latest survey published by the Association of Graduate Recruiters has tonnes of excellent insight within it and we wanted to highlight to you some of the key trends and ideas that it explores. Whilst the survey is conducted on a number of large graduate recruiters, there is still a lot that SMEs can learn from the findings. Read on for further exploration into four key insights from the report…

1) The Headline: Graduates lack workplace skills

The Stat: 49% of employers think that graduates don’t have the soft skills expected of them when hired.

The Detail: Graduates struggle to manage upwards, communicate in a business context and think commercially. We can’t really expect graduates to be capable in these areas when they are not skills they have confronted and developed through their previous experiences (this most often being school, college – education-based experience).

The AGR suggested that the most employable and workplace ready graduates are those that complete placement years in industry. This gives young people a good grounding in what the working world is like and they therefore tend to perform better in the workplace when they enter it after graduating.


2) The Headline: Progression and retention is improving

The Stats: 39% of graduates are managers after five years. Employers typically lose 16% of graduates during their programmes.

The Detail: Companies are developing the future managers they need, yet they are still losing a proportion of their graduates during programmes. Why? The top three reasons cited by graduates are:

  • To change career
  • For better pay
  • Due to a dissatisfaction with career progression

Better programme design and a good transition following the programme are suggested ways to improve graduate retention. For many businesses, it’s about getting three things that are really important to graduates right: development, progression and living your values. And with all of these, it’s about being realistic. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. It’s better to give a suggested path of progression than to promise one you cannot deliver.

Living your values also bears huge significance for young people; nearly 70% of millennials say that working culture/atmosphere is the second highest activity that they feel accountable for in the workplace. (Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017)


3) The Headline: Organisations need to plan for the future

The Stats: 94% of employers run programmes to develop a pipeline of future leaders. 68% run programmes to develop future specialists.

The Detail: These are really encouraging statistics that prove just how significant a role graduate recruitment plays in ensuring businesses have the talent required for the future. It is interesting that the survey differentiates between future leaders and future specialists. Organisations are recognising that not all graduates are destined to be leaders and managers and in fact, growing a team of specialists is also crucially important. We all have those individuals in our business that know everything about our products and the prospect of losing them is unbearable! Growing talented specialists alongside our future leaders is an important part of succession planning and one which allows us to not only envision our future managerial teams, but our future technical directors or product specialists too.


4) The Headline: Managers need training around how to manage graduates

The Stats: 81% of respondents now train their managers on how to manage graduates

The Detail: Companies are recognising the need for graduate-specific management training and are putting training sessions in place to ensure the effective management of graduate cohorts. We are seeing that graduate retention is improving and perhaps this is a reason why; companies now have a better understanding of how to manage them. The training sessions are said to include a variety of subjects, ‘generational awareness’ and ‘techniques for motivation, feedback and difficult conversations’ being two of them. These are said to help managers engage better with graduates and make the programme more enjoyable and effective for both parties.

 I hope this has given you an overview of some of the most prevalent issues in the world of graduate development today. If there are any points you would like to discuss further, please do not hesitate to get in touch – I’d be delighted to talk with you about any of the aspects above and what they could mean for you and your business.

See also:
Half of employers belive that graduates lack workplace skills
Why Saturday jobs are so valuable