Stephen Isherwood
ISE chief Stephen Isherwood

Member Article

Employers cut entry-level jobs by 23% due to corona crisis

School leavers and graduates entering the labour market this year will find it harder to find employment as firms cut entry-level jobs by nearly a quarter, according to new research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

All types of entry-level roles have been reduced this year because of the coronavirus. Employers are hiring 32% fewer people onto apprentice or school leaver programmes than planned this year and graduate jobs have been cut by 12%. The number of internships and placements available will also fall - by 40%.

The ISE report - Covid-19: Impact of the crisis on student recruitment and development - is supported by AGCAS. It shows that 14% of survey respondents were not able to provide clarity about their recruitment numbers for this year, demonstrating how volatile the labour market is at present.

How this group of employers behave could make a substantial difference to the number of students hired in the autumn.

Looking ahead, the labour market for young people could shrink further in 2021 with 15% of employers already anticipating that they would reduce entry-level hiring next year.

Employers are responding to the crisis in atypical ways and students have found that job offers are not as secure as they perhaps believed.

One in seven employers reported that they have already withdrawn offers and a further 14% may renege in the coming weeks. Almost a third of employers (31%) are delaying start dates and more than half are planning to induct new starters remotely.

Health and pharmaceuticals was found to be the only sector set to increase entry-level recruitment this year while the built environment, finance, professional services, energy and engineering were making the largest reductions in hiring.

Students are more likely to find jobs in large organisations as SMEs reported that they had reduced their entry-level job opportunities more than larger firms.

The report also showed how recruitment and selection has been affected by the lockdown with talks, workshops, interviews and assessment centres largely moved online.

ISE chief executive, Stephen Isherwood said: “There is no denying that this will be a challenging year for young people entering the labour market. Some employers are backing graduates over non-graduates and others have found it too difficult to start new apprenticeships, which means that school leavers will be among the hardest hit by the crisis.

“This doesn’t mean that students should assume the jobs market is dead. Many employers are recruiting and history tells us that we still see unfilled vacancies in a downturn. Switching off is the worst thing students can do. It will only hinder their prospects further when the upturn comes and the jobs market recovers.

“What students can do now much depends on individual circumstances. If you can volunteer or get part-time work, then that’s great. Use online support from careers websites and prepare for virtual interviews and assessment centres. Whatever you do, be proactive. Have a story to tell when you do get that first interview.”

AGCAS president, Bob Gilworth said: “As higher education careers professionals, it is important for us to share our understanding of the graduate labour market with our students, even if that presents a challenging picture, as it does here. Equally, we are committed to supporting our students and graduates to engage with the opportunities that continue to exist in the current situation and to be prepared for improvement in the market when it comes.

“The unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 outbreak clearly has a detrimental impact on the economy and the labour market. As the report shows, it does not wipe out graduate opportunities altogether, nor does it diminish the talent of our students and graduates. Higher education careers services continue to support students and graduates and will carry on doing so, through the current situation and beyond.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Institute of Student Employers .

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