4 Ways To Combat the UK Graduate Vacancy Issue

With all of the attention and articles geared toward millennials about how they can improve their resumes and find the perfect positions, it made me ponder another area that hasn’t been as widely publicised – how to recruit graduates in the UK. Many businesses still seem to be struggling to fill all of their graduate vacancies. With this in mind, I wanted to explore some of the challenges faced with graduate recruitment in the UK and how roadblocks can be overcome.

Employers are expecting to hire an increasing number of UK graduates this year based on the growth in the past two years, but graduate vacancies are at their highest since 2007. This causes an obvious challenge as talent acquisition teams struggle to fill the roles that they already have open. An average of 74 CVs are received per graduate vacancy, which shows there is no lack of applications, so there are definitely other factors influencing the problem.

So, with such a high number of applications, why is there such an issue in filling open graduate vacancies? Are hiring managers too picky? Or is the quality of candidate not acceptable?

An increasing number of offers made by employers are for graduates who have previous work experience (via a sandwich course) and this seems to be key in finding a solution to the issue. Of the leading graduate recruiters in the UK, more than 80 percent offer paid work placements for final-year students. But more now seem to be offering placements for first-year students. It’s this kind of program that will help students gain experience in professional environments and give them the vital preparation that they clearly need. Many graduate recruiters have flagged the fact that students with no commercial experience are unlikely to secure places on graduate schemes.

Knowing this is certainly helpful, but the question still remains: What can the recruitment teams do to encourage students to take advantage of these placement opportunities?

There are a number of ways that this can be done, but I have focused on the potential solutions that could be the most effective. Twitter-logo

Increased Campus Presence

This doesn’t simply refer to advertising graduate programs or roles around campus but more around educating students about your business, the culture and the opportunities for career development. Research speaking engagements and panel opportunities throughout local university career services departments. Having a physical presence on campus where students know your organisation and know you’re hiring will make the process much easier on your end.

Ongoing Education

Focus more on the importance of educating students about being ready for the corporate world and presenting themselves as credible candidates at assessment centres. These can be via CV workshops, offering placements during holiday periods or informal get-togethers with the hiring manager community to talk about what they look for when recruiting graduates.

Social Media Engagement

Social media is key in getting your company message out to students – whether it’s through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any of the numerous channels available. The more that recruiters can encourage their businesses to interact and engage online, the better chance they have of making students aware of work placement opportunities.

Sponsorship Programmes

Sponsorship is something that isn’t as widely used as it could be. Essentially the employer will pay undergraduates a pre-agreed amount in return for their services in a specific department (usually related to the degree that they are pursuing). Whilst it’s not guaranteed, sponsorship can lead to the students agreeing to return to the business once they have graduated (conditional on them achieving an agreed-upon minimum classification in their degree). This is a great way for businesses to help students prepare for the world of work and secure the services of those who perform well in a placement.

The graduate vacancy issue needs to be addressed by more companies. Explore how your talent acquisition department can adopt the appropriate campaigns to prepare these graduates. The more engaged you become with the target audience, the better the chance you have of seeing well-prepared, credible candidates at the interview stage and being productive employees in your business.

How is your organisation filling graduate vacancies? Share with us in the comments section below!


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Mike Swain

Mike is an account manager at WilsonHCG. He has a passion for modern languages, specifically Spanish and French, and started out his recruitment career working at a specialist agency for languages prior to moving into the RPO space. With experience in multiple industry sectors, Mike has recruited at most levels, from graduate and apprentice levels to senior executives. Outside of work, Mike has a young family and plays squash in his local county leagues.