A recent BBC article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20935521 – states that the big employers will be hiring more graduates in 2013. Half of the surveyed organisations plan to increase their intake and 1/3rd plan to keep numbers the same. But a word of caution is that the levels of vacancies in big firms is still 11% lower than it was in 2007 (i.e. pre recession).
The most telling part of the article is the growing focus on work experience from employers. Without it, half of these employers say it is unlikely graduates will be offered jobs and for many recruiting organisations they will fill up to a 1/3rd of their graduate intake with those who have ‘interned’ with them.
Our experience, through our Bright Futures Societies, is that students are well aware of this need to offer more than a degree and that ‘work experience’ really matters.
BUT the challenge for students is that there are not enough tradtional internships and industrial placements to go around, for example the leading 100 graduate employers only offer 62% of the volume of these roles compared to their graduate numbers.
Organisations who recruit graduates (be that 1 or 1000) need to find more ways to give students the work experience they need. AND ‘Work Experience’ needs to be seen in its broadest sense for it is not the work experience itself that is of value but the outputs and skills developed from it that matters. So ‘work experience’ can and should include such opportunities as hiring students as temps (Universities have started doing this more); short term projects that individual students or groups of students can work on; committee roles in a student Society; Volunteering etc all will develop skills and thus constitute work experience.
So the opportunity and challenge to all employers is what ‘work experience’ can you provide for students that will not just make them more employabnle but also provide you with a pipeline of talent to join you as a graduate?