The competition for top graduate talent has never been higher. According to a new report, The Must-Know Student Recruitment Trends in the UK for 2019 candidates on average, apply for graduate schemes with 29 different UK employers. As a result the number of applicants per graduate scheme has reached an all-time high with companies within the financial and professional services sectors having to deal with over 250,000 applications and other sectors typically receiving applications from 50,000 graduates.
The new study reviewed anonymous application data from 3.8 million candidates applying to graduate programmes across the finance, government, professional services, advertising, engineering and retail industries*.
According to the report competition is not just tougher for the recruiter, but also the candidate. Three quarters of students are interested in graduate programmes but only one per cent of graduates applying for schemes within finance, advertising and professional services and major retailers were hired in 2018, falling from two per cent the previous year.
These falls can in part be attributed to the fact that 2017 saw the first drop in graduate recruitment in five years (4.9 per cent) and the biggest since 2009. With fewer graduate jobs to go for, graduates are applying for more than twice as many positions compared with 10 years ago in the hope of increasing their chances of being hired.
However graduate recruiters are making gains in other areas. The gender gap has closed significantly – 58 per cent of all graduate scheme hires were male versus 42 per cent female in 2018. This compares to 69 per cent male and 31 per cent female the previous year. The public sector is the best performer, achieving 50/50 gender equality. The engineering, retail and advertising sectors are still struggling with gender bias – with 70 per cent of graduate scheme places going to men.
Race equality has also improved, with the proportion of black candidates being hired doubling over the past 12 months. However, this group does still only accounts for six per cent of total hires. Asian applicants also saw a rise in hire rates in 2018, increasing from 13 per cent to 16 per cent.