career decisions / Job market

UK labour market update June 2022

If you’re a departing Warwick Finalist currently looking for your first graduate job, here is a brief update on the current UK labour market. With thanks as ever, to Charlie Ball, Senior Consultant: Labour Market at JISC, for providing this information hot off the press.

Key facts:

  • The overall employment rate is very high, but fewer people are in work as many older workers (particularly professionals) left the jobs market during COVID
  • There are currently more jobs than people available to fill them
  • Demand is high for more experienced graduates- but this is likely to feed down to entry level graduate jobs

What happened to the Class of 2019/20?

This is the most recently available data on graduate destinations. Graduates were surveyed in summer 2021. These graduates left Uni at arguably the worst possible time, as the pandemic meant many areas of the country were in lockdown. Despite this, 89% of graduates who responded to the 2019/20 survey were in some form of work or further study. 86% of survey respondents agreed that their current activity was meaningful, 77% said that it fit with their future plans, and 71% agreed that they were using what they had learned during their studies.

How have employers responded?

  • All recruitment shifted online during the pandemic- and is likely to remain so.
  • In 2020 employers made a great many cuts to graduate programmes though few suspended all their recruitment. As remote working clearly became more viable, recruitment resumed with only mild disruption.
  • By 2021, businesses were starting to report labour shortages. Ironically at that time fewer graduates/finalists were applying for jobs, anticipating (incorrectly) there were less opportunities.

Hybrid working is here to stay

The world of work has shifted, with employers offering a range of flexible working arrangements. 4% of the population say they have changed jobs where recruiters were unwilling to offer flexible working and 9% have switched career. Contrary to popular opinion, the graduate labour market has grown steadily and substantially over the last 50 years. This growth has been at the expense of non-graduate jobs which have steadily declined.

How do people feel about the quality of their jobs?

The CIPD have produced a report, Good Work on the quality of work and how people feel about their jobs. There are some interesting insights here, with workers in professional occupations (i.e. graduates) most likely to be satisfied.

Will robots steal our jobs?

This report by PwC outlines the potential effects of AI on future employment. While this will have a significant impact in many sectors, AI will also create many jobs, most of which will be at graduate level.

Recession? What recession?

However, there is a recently reported slight downturn with a possible recession on its way. Looking to the last recession, however, the graduate labour market was the segment least impacted. This is in part because graduate recruiters have learnt the hard way that cutting graduate schemes causes pain and shortages when recovery does come. Interestingly this coincides at a time when the UK has been experiencing labour shortages.

In summary

Despite the current global and economic challenges, the UK labour market is holding up. There may be some turbulence ahead, but of all groups in the labour market graduates are the least likely to be impacted. Warwick is the 6th most targeted university by graduate recruiters, so our message: be positive and press on with your applications. Remember the Careers Team is here to support you both as students and once you’ve graduated. Check Careers Support for graduates here.

For Charlie Ball’s regular UK labour market insights visit Luminate Prospects

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