How will early careers recruitment change over the next five years?

Mar 13, 2023 | Research, Sector & policy

ISE data shows how early careers recruitment is changing and what the future holds.

The labour market is shifting, and economic pressures felt by inflation are impacting candidates and employers alike.

How will our industry respond? How are employers planning to evolve their recruitment and what external pressures do they expect will have the most significance over the next five years?

Our annual Student Recruitment survey sought to try to answer some of these questions.

Student recruitment over the next five years

Our employer members were asked to reflect on a series of questions about their plans for their student recruitment over the next five years.

Half of the respondents expected that their recruitment would be mainly virtual over the next five years and a smaller proportion (18%) anticipated that an increasing number of their entry-level staff would be based at home.

In line with the shift to virtual provision, it’s perhaps no surprise that more than a third (38%) expected that they would increasingly automate the process of student recruitment. You can read about how widespread AI and automation are used in student recruitment at the moment.

Around a third of employers (29%) expected to drop qualification requirements and move to a ‘qualification blind’ approach to student recruitment. This shift was already evident in our data, which showed that for the first time in our history of collecting it, less than half of employers stipulate a 2:1 degree.

And almost a quarter (28%) expected to rebalance their entry-level recruitment away from graduates and towards school and college leavers. Our Student Development survey showed that one reason for this shift is to beat the skills shortages challenge.

Impact of external pressures

We asked employers about how external pressures have already impacted recruitment and how those forces are likely to change recruitment volumes over the next five years.

We found that systemic changes such as those around Brexit and immigration have led to less recruitment (19% and 10% less, respectively). Whereas government change and Covid-19 have led to more recruitment (100% and 21% more, respectively).

Over the next five years, the highest proportion of employers on record (53%) expect that an economic recession will cause them to recruit less in the coming years (up from 42% in 2021, 45% in 2020, and 36% in 2019).

Brexit is continuing to be felt, with 20% of employers expecting this will lead to a decrease in student hiring (up from 16% in 2021, 18% in 2020, but down from 34% in 2019).

Some employers (20%) perceive that shifting demographics, namely less young people, will lead to a reduction in student recruitment. Meanwhile, some employers (18%) perceive that immigration changes will threaten the number of student hires in the next five years.

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