Graduate programmes and apprenticeships now hybrid, but mental health issues increase

Mar 29, 2023 | Development, Research

The nature of work for graduates and apprentices has changed, reveals ISE Student Development Survey 2023.

Post pandemic influences have shaped how graduates and apprentices enter the workplace. This may be the first time they’ve experienced working life, but from their first few days on the job, graduates and apprentices should be prepared to work hybrid.

This year’s Student Development Survey of 162 ISE employer members showed that graduates (72% employers) and apprentices (74% employers) work at home one or two days a week.

Around a quarter of organisations expect early career hires to work remotely at least three days a week. You can read an example of how a graduate from ISE member HSBC is adapting to hybrid working.

Graduates and apprentices should be prepared to work hybrid from the beginning of their programmes with 62% of employers running a blend of face-to-face and online inductions. 

The survey also showed that a range of support is available to new hires who are mainly based at home. Just over a quarter of employers provide extra IT equipment and 22% offer additional support from peers or line managers. You can read advice on how to support hybrid workers from less privileged backgrounds.

Most employers (55%) believe that remote development activities are less effective at developing early career hires than in-person events. But they also reported that not all online activities are the same and that it is possible to increase the quality of virtual training through careful design. For example, use interactive content, interact with participants, ask questions and interact with a tutor.

Impact on skills

The shift to hybrid work has increased emphasis on human skills. There is more focus on early hires being able to manage themselves and their time.

Compared with pre-Covid and last year, more employers report greater concerns about the attitudes and behaviours of graduates and apprentices than their workplace or technical skills.

For graduates, employers were most concerned about self-awareness (35%), resilience (30%) and time management (24%). For apprentices, respondents were most concerned with self-awareness (33%), commercial awareness (32%) and time management (29%).

The lack of these types of skills is likely attributed to the limited work experience opportunities and social interactions available to students during the pandemic.

The majority of employers (72%) agreed that graduates who complete an internship or placement arrive with better skills and attitudes (compared to 63% in 2022).

You can read more about the competencies graduates need to thrive in the modern workplace and whether the communication skills gap is increasing.

Impact on mental health

The trend towards hybrid work has had a big effect on the provision of development programmes, but this, combined with the long-term effects of the pandemic, may also have had an impact on wider issues experienced by early career hires, such as increased mental health concerns.

Compared to previous years, 64% of employers said that the number of graduates and apprentices with mental health issues has increased.

Employers have adapted their programmes, so there is more face-to-face interaction and remote support available. The majority of employers (85%) now offer mental health support and counselling.

Read advice on developing a preventative approach to mental health. You can also join our workshop in April on turning mental health on its head.

ISE Development Survey has been conducted annually for the past eight years. This year we collaborated with the International Centre for Guidance Studies at the University of Derby. As a result, the survey was reviewed, shortened and new questions relating to skills as well as remote working were added.

The survey among ISE employer members ran from 9 January to 7 February 2023. Employers reported 26,313 graduates and 13,385 apprentices had joined their organisations in 2021/2022.

Read ISE Student Development Survey 2023

Our acing development for early careers courses help practitioners navigate and respond to current needs and trends.


Was this article helpful?



  1. Hot early talent recruitment and development topics from Scotland and the North | ISE Insights - […] ISE’s Student Development survey also showed that compared to previous years, 64% of employers said that the number of…
  2. Top 3 early talent development trends of 2023 | ISE Insights - […] Read more about our data on hybrid graduate programmes and apprenticeships. […]
  3. How to build a strong employer brand to attract early talent | ISE Insights - […] rise of remote working has changed everything. Most employees expect flexibility and for some early talent (those looking […]
  4. The UK’s four-day working week works | ISE Insights - […] The majority (73%) of people recorded feeling a greater satisfaction with their time, as well as measures of physical…
Share This