How are employers recruiting graduates in 2022?

Nov 14, 2022 | Sector & policy

Graduate recruitment remains at the heart of most ISE members’ early talent strategy, ISE’s Student Recruitment Survey 2022 shows the approach employers are taking in 2022.

Applications drop

In this year’s ISE Student Recruitment Survey, we asked employers to report the number of applications they received and graduates they hired for both this year and last year.

Respondents reported that they received a total of almost 559,959 applications for graduate jobs during 2021/2022.

The average (mean) organisation received 62 applications per vacancy in 2021/2022 (-5% decrease on last year), while the typical (median) organisation received 36 applications per vacancy. This is a significant decrease from last year, where organisations received on average 91 applications per vacancy.

This is one of the lowest years for applications per vacancy since 2018/2019. This suggests that graduates are being more selective in which roles they are applying for.

The sector breakdown shows how competitive Digital & IT jobs are compared to those in the Charity and Public Sector. Read p19 of the report for sector data.

Growth in the graduate labour market

We analysed the graduate hiring numbers from organisations who provided figures for both 2020/2021 and 2021/2022. Our data suggests that the graduate recruitment market has grown by +17% in the last year.

Overall, respondents hired a total of 19,646 graduates during 2021/2022, this was up from 16,653 vacancies last year (+17%). This is a significant increase compared to the year previously (+9%), and significant recovery from the dip in graduate hiring in 2019/2020.

This sustained growth in the graduate labour market highlights how organisations are using graduate hiring as a strategic tool in an incredibly tight fight for talent. We estimate that current hiring levels have exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

There are significant differences across sectors, with a significant increase in hiring occurring within the Energy, Engineering & Industry (+46%) and Finance & Professional Services sector (38%). Demand for digital talent is continuing to grow, and across all career levels technical skills are in increasing demand.

Read p.20/21 of the report for historical and sector data.


IT roles account for 20% of all graduate hires

Graduates were recruited for a wide range of roles in 2021/2022. Those that were being recruited by the highest proportions of graduate employers were IT (programming and development), technical and analytical roles, financial management and engineering roles. This pattern was mostly consistent with previous years, however a reduction of roles in the legal sector.

It’s important to highlight that IT roles (general, programming and development) now account for 20% of all hires. Notably, fewer health, medical and social care, teaching, training and other educational roles were being recruited for.

Some of these roles were more difficult to recruit than others, with 43% of respondents that recruit graduates reporting that they found at least one role difficult to fill, an increase on the number reported last year.

Looking specifically at the role types that were hardest to fill, the top five hardest to fill roles were:

  1. Engineering
  2. IT Programming and development
  3. IT general
  4. Technical and analytical roles
  5. Accountancy and audit roles

Recruitment for these roles can span across all sectors. Considering the wider challenges in the labour market, some organisations are trying new creative ways to fill technical roles. Many employers have told us they are transitioning to recruiting candidates with a broader educational background, now including mathematics, engineering and all STEM courses instead of just recruiting IT graduates.

For occupation data read p.22 of the report

Satisfaction with graduates

Overall, employers were content with the skills, knowledge and behaviour of the graduates that they recruited. The survey found that, across all sectors, just over a third of employers said that they are almost always able to find the quality of graduates that they require. A further 52% said that they are often satisfied. Read p23 of the report for sector information.

Enrolling graduates onto apprenticeships

Less than a third (31%) of organisations that recruit graduates reported enrolling them onto apprenticeships. The most common levels of apprenticeships for graduates were Master’s Degree (Level 7) which each made up 38% of the apprenticeships reported. This was followed by Degree Apprenticeships (Level 6).

The enrolment levels of graduates onto apprenticeships highlights different growth trends in apprentices and that graduates still make up a bigger proportion of the market

 Read more blogs on this year’s survey or download the report


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