Each year gradireland asks leading graduate employers to take part in our annual Graduate Salary and Recruitment Trends Survey. We use this survey to track trends in graduate recruitment, employer attitudes, salary and intake data and a host of other useful indices, which we then use to inform and shape the advice content in our websites and publications as we seek to give the best support to students and graduates in their career search.
The findings for 2012 were published recently and, notwithstanding the fact that there are still graduate opportunities available across all sectors in Ireland, the results continue to paint a fairly grim picture for the current generation of Ireland’s students and graduates.
Continued retraction in the graduate jobs market
Graduate intakes continue to decline: the median number of vacancies across all graduate employers fell by one employee per employer from 2011 to 2012. This means that the current high levels of graduate and youth unemployment are unlikely to improve any time soon, making it even harder to carve out a graduate career in Ireland.
Graduate salaries are declining in real terms
Most graduate starting salaries are the €24,000–€26,000 range. This has remained unchanged since 2009, down from €26,000–€28,000 in 2008, suggesting that salaries are stagnant or in decline, which reflects the trajectory of the Irish economy.
Work experience and internships continue to dominate the graduate recruitment agenda
80 per cent of graduate recruiters offer internships. 44 per cent of these intend to increase the number of internships offered during 2012, a 10 per cent increase from 2011. 83 per cent of graduate employers surveyed pay students on internships, although rates of pay are declining. The most common rate of pay for a graduate internship is €1,400–€1,600 per month.
Work experience is more important than postgraduate study for the majority of graduate employers
One third of respondents apportion more value to relevant work experience than to postgraduate qualifications when considering graduate applications. Only 10.7 per cent weight postgraduate qualifications more heavily than relevant work experience.
2:1 degree or above is increasingly important in getting a graduate job
58 per cent of graduate recruiters demand that applicants expect a 2:1 degree or above. This has increased from 38 per cent in 2010 (51 per cent in 2011) and reflects the increasing competition for places on top graduate programmes.
Most graduate jobs are in companies in the accountancy/financial management and IT sectors
62 per cent of all graduate jobs are in companies in these sectors (but jobs within these companies are spread across many job roles).
Skills shortage are of great concern to graduate employers
49 per cent of all graduate employers surveyed cite a skills gap in IT and technology as their main impediment to graduate recruitment.
What makes a candidate for a graduate job a good match? Well, that depends who you ask.
Anyone who has recruited for a job will know that, very often, applicants don’t seem to understand what the job requires. And if the employer has one view on the subject and the would-be employee has a different view, there is never going to be a match made in heaven.
At gradireland, we try to take the guesswork out of this process by questioning graduate recruiters every year for our annual Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey. At various times, we also question student and graduate job hunters about their views: this year, we asked everyone entering the gradireland National Student Challenge some questions on their views about graduate jobs.
The good news is that the employers and the students agreed in several areas. But there is one important area where there is a gap in understanding.
We asked graduate employers about their selection criteria: apart from academic results, the most important factors this year were core competences and relevant work experience.
We asked the students this question: ‘Besides academic ability what is the top skill or attribute that you feel graduate recruiters look for when selecting students?’ Work experience came second in the list, an encouraging response that shows students are aware of how important this is.
But coming back to those competences, the answers don’t match up so well. We asked employers where they see the greatest shortfall in skills among new recruits, and the answer is not an area that the students saw as a priority.
Students believe that motivation is the number one attribute that employers look for. And they are right to give this prominence: that came number two in the employers’ list. But top of that list, chosen by nearly 50% of employers, was communication. This came only fourth on the students’ list – suggesting that they don’t take this skill nearly as seriously as they ought to.
The gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2012 was published in May 2012.
For tips on competences and how to demonstrate them in your job applications, read the gradireland.com article What recruiters want.