Employers to put the focus back on Graduates

As the recovery takes hold over the coming months and years, employers will focus more on competing for labour from a limited pool of skills. This is something that many of our customers have already been looking at, as they explained in our autumn round of HR Group meetings.

The changing talent pool 

Since the start of the recession, professional skills and expertise have been lost in many sectors through retirements and redundancies – which has resulted in people permanently exiting specialist sectors. Indeed, training and development was one of the first areas to be cut back at the start of the recession, so new blood has not entered these industries to replace the experience lost.

Although some sectors, such as Construction, are still struggling for business, our customers indicate that they are still encountering recruitment and retention problems for some specialist roles, such as Planners. Such cases are often caused by sector-specific skills shortages and highlights potential future recruitment issues, when business does start to pick up. Other sectors such as Housing, where business is already picking up, are already encountering these problems.

Graduates as the solution

So what does this mean for graduates? Well, more customers have asked us about graduates in the last 12 months than since the beginning of the recession, so this is clearly a area of interest. Many employers are already looking to source new skills, anticipating an upturn in business in the coming years. Some state that between three and five per cent of their total employee population is already made up of graduates.

As competition for top graduates increases, employers are having to be more creative in capturing and retaining the right calibre of graduate. In the Facilities Management (FM) and Fit-Out (M & E) sectors, employers are working more closely with colleges and universities, whilst others are even offering company cars to new graduates. Starting salaries most commonly range between £18,000 and £21,000, although some employers state they pay as much as £25,000. In Construction and FM, graduates are commonly attracted to high profile or glamorous project work. Career (and salary) progression and a lack of mobility are also contributing factors to increased competition; areas that employers are also currently reviewing.

A number of industry bodies and training boards are becoming more involved in bridging the divide between education, training and employment. There is little doubt that skills and training, and graduates in particular, are climbing the priorities list on the HR agenda. We will continue to monitor market practice in this area, so that we can keep you updated on developments.

If you require any advice on pay and graduates, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1733 391 377.