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Expert Comment: Shift in the graduate labour market

Jobs Thursday 18 October 2012

As UK unemployment continues to decline, Ginny Mair, Head of Student Development and Employability at Hope, looks at how the graduate labour market is faring.

The graduate labour market is holding up well compared to the first quarter of 2012, according to university careers and employability professionals. Responding to the regular vacancy survey carried out by AGCAS, 93% of heads of careers services said that, in their experience, the graduate labour market was more buoyant or the same in the quarter ending 30 June 2012 when compared to the previous quarter. 79% said it was more buoyant or the same compared to the same period last year.

Many also mentioned increased engagement in the graduate labour market from SMEs and an increase in 'niche graduate' posts. This is a term used to describe occupations that, while not traditionally requiring a degree, require a combination of expert and soft skills that today's graduates are more likely to offer than non-graduates, particularly many roles in SMEs, where flexibility and multiple skills are needed.    

AGCAS President, Anne-Marie Martin, said:

"The findings of the survey are very encouraging, especially given the overall economic climate. It seems as though we might be seeing early evidence of a gradual shift in the labour market with an increasing range of employers seeking out UK graduates - including smaller companies, recruiters in sectors that perhaps wouldn't have taken on graduates at all in the past, and organisations of all sizes that are succeeding in the global economy - even in this difficult climate.”

The Careers & Employability team at Hope understand how the labour market is changing and they are evolving and developing strategies to ensure that their graduates are well-placed to take advantage of opportunities. They're persuading more organisations to take on graduates, while at the same time showing students how to be proactive and unearth opportunities for themselves.

Our advice is: although the labour market is competitive, there are still jobs out there; do your research; consider smaller employers as well as well-known companies; develop and learn how to articulate your skills; get work experience while at university; write the best application possible and prepare well for interviews.   Visit the new Employability Hub for support with all of these.

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