CIPD: “Seven out of 10 employers blame ‘insufficient’ applications. Employers are struggling to fill graduate positions because of a lack of “quality” job submissions, according to a sample poll from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). Eighty-seven per cent of respondents reported having unfilled vacancies for this year.
This is despite previous optimism in the market that prompted more than half (55 per cent) of companies to increase their graduate intake targets for 2014.
The areas that reported the greatest number of unfilled places were IT (26 per cent), electrical/electronic engineering (23 per cent) and general management (18 per cent).
The poll, based on responses from 68 AGR members, is published ahead of the organisation’s annual summer survey.
It reports that 67 per cent of employers have received applications of “insufficient quality” in the last year, and the majority of companies would rather “hire nobody than the wrong person”.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR suggested that degree-holders were not making enough effort during the recruitment process.
“Often graduates are not taking enough time over their applications and thus not representing themselves in the best possible light,” he said.
Katerina Rudiger, head of skills and policy campaigns, at the CIPD agreed that the application process was one of the biggest challenges graduates faced when entering the labour market, but advised that these figures didn’t suggest a skills shortage amongst the UK’s university leaders.
“The skills are there,” she said, “graduates just need help in expressing themselves on paper and at interview stage.”
She suggested that onus shouldn’t just be on applicants to make themselves known to businesses, but employers and recruiters had a part to play in helping graduates to become “work-ready”.
“Employers and recruiters shouldn’t be absolved of their responsibilities and should take into consideration that many graduates do not have experience of the work place, and don’t know how to speak the recruiter’s ‘language’,” she said.
Companies struggling to find graduates should consider changing their recruitment practices and reaching out to young people through face-to-face mentoring, and volunteering programmes, Rudiger added.
“A great example is Nestle who changed their interview techniques from competency-based to strengths-based after realising they were missing out on hidden graduate talent,” she said.
Isherwood suggested that graduates would have the upper hand if employers continued to increase their graduate intake numbers.
“I’d urge all graduates to really research sectors and roles that they’re applying for, tailoring each approach to show why they want that particular job and what relevant skills they can offer an employer.
“There are graduate vacancies out there and making fewer, targeted applications rather than taking a scatter gun approach to finding a job will pay dividends in the long run,” he added.