More graduates and apprentices leave jobs for better pay

Apr 26, 2024 | Development, Home Featured, News, Research

ISE’s Student Development report launches, revealing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis with more entry-level staff favouring pay over progression.

ISE’s Student Development survey 2024  reports a surge in graduates and apprentices leaving roles due to dissatisfaction with pay.

This year more than half (51%) of employers reported graduates and apprentices were leaving for better pay, compared to 40% in 2023 and 2022, and just over a quarter in 2021 and 2020.

The survey has been conducted annually for the past nine years in its current format, this year’s issue ran in January and February 2024 and is based on the views of 139 employers. It found dissatisfaction with pay has become the second most common reason for people quitting, behind moving to a similar role in a different company.

Before the cost-of-living crisis, graduates were more likely to leave their employer for better progression opportunities than higher salaries.

Our latest Student Recruitment Survey also showed similar trends with a shift to more applications for higher paying sectors such as finance, and fewer graduates applying for jobs in the public sector, which are traditionally lower paid.

Static pay progression
Pay progression once in employment hasn’t kept pace with the market and only new joiners – both entry-level graduates and those moving for better pay – seem to be reaping the benefits.

ISE’s Student Development survey shows that while starting salaries for graduates and apprentices increased this year, the levels for those who’ve been in the job for three years have remained static.

Graduate Apprentices

Stephen Isherwood, joint CEO of ISE, commented:

“The cost-of-living crisis still impacts students once they have found work. Increases in rent, travel and general living costs mean that salary levels are not keeping pace with inflation. So, in a competitive market for talent more people are leaving for better paid opportunities. Employers are going to need to work harder to retain talent.”

Declining retention

Overall, graduate retention after three years is in gradual decline. In 2016 employers retained 83% of their graduates after three years, in 2023/24 it had dropped to 70%. Employers reported that they found Black heritage hires and women particularly hard to retain.

Conversely, there was a spike in apprentice retention, which rose to 77% this year compared to 71% in 2023. This may be due to school and college leavers feeling less secure in the jobs market. While employment rate for graduates has increased, non-graduate employment rates have not yet started to recover from the end of the pandemic.

Offering work experience can help, around a third of employers (32%) reported that they retain former interns at a higher rate. The survey also showed that those who had completed an internship or placement arrived with better skills and attitudes.

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