How 2023 graduates are preparing for a future of work, disrupted

Aug 29, 2023 | Attraction & marketing, Home Featured, Research

New research reveals how this year’s graduates are preparing for work given the rise of remote working and AI, explains Meg Haines at Handshake.

It’s no secret that the class of 2023 is entering the workforce during a period of rapid change.

There is economic uncertainty, attitudes toward remote and hybrid work are ever evolving, and new AI technology could completely reshape how work is done – in fact, it’s already changing recruitment strategies.

In light of these changes, the question on everyone’s lips is: How are soon-to-be new graduates meeting this moment?

At this year’s ISE Student Recruitment Conference we unveiled Handshake’s latest research.

Our findings reveal five key trends on how the class of 2023 is preparing for the future of work:

1. Adjusting priorities

In particular, this class cares less and less about working for a big-name, fast-growing company.

Between summer 2022 and spring 2023, we saw a 10% drop in the share of 2023 graduates who say company brand is a factor in their job search. There was also a 20% drop in the share who say a company’s growth rate is a factor.

2. Skills confidence and ready to keep learning

More than 70% of 2023 graduates say they have the skills they need to get the job they want, but they know they’ll need to work to keep up with evolving tech trends. Around 75% plan to develop additional tech skills in the next few years.

3. Tech savvy

This year’s graduates are tech savvy, even if their degree isn’t in a tech field. More than 80% of 2023 graduates in non-tech fields have experience with one or more tech skills, such as data analysis or information technology.

2023 graduates are even more likely than their predecessors to be interested in jobs that require tech skills, but big tech companies haven’t seen a corresponding bump in search traffic.

Searches for major tech brands by the class of 2023 were down by almost 15% compared to the class of 2022. Instead, the class of 2023 is more likely to search for top companies in industries like retail, finance and manufacturing. Applications to these sectors are up too.

4. Differing views on AI

Graduates in 2023 are split on the impact of generative AI. Among those who are familiar with AI tools like ChatGPT, a majority believe generative AI will impact their field, while a little under half are worried about how generative AI will affect their career.

5. In-person connection

Although they appreciate the benefits of remote work, very few 2023 graduates want fully remote jobs. A majority believe working in person at least some of the time will benefit their careers. More than seven in 10 would prefer a hybrid work arrangement.

The class of 2023 is ready to rise to the moment

This year’s graduates know they’ll need to navigate intense disruption, both in the economy as a whole and in where and how work is done – whether that’s remote, in-person or hybrid. They’ve shown they’re ready for what’s ahead.

The class of 2023 is taking a flexible, sensible approach to their job search, applying to a wider range of opportunities as they shift focus away from big-name, fast-growing companies. They’re putting trust in the skills they have now, but they’re prepared to keep learning as technology evolves. They’re also clear-eyed about both the benefits and drawbacks of remote work.

The future is uncertain. But there’s no doubt the class of 2023 will meet it—and shape it. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish.

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