Disappointing UK graduates may face competition from abroad


The autumn survey of the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) reveals that approximately one third of organisations (34%) were anticipating having difficulty in recruiting graduates during autumn 2001. In the same survey over 40% of recruiters report that their organisations were unable to meet last year’s recruitment targets in full. While a minority (7%) said they had taken on more graduates than originally planned, 23% of organisations had not enlisted a single graduate towards their intended quota. These figures may show a reduction in the recruitment of graduates due to the forecast downturn in the economy.

Nearly one fifth (18%) of those who did offer employment on graduate schemes were not happy with the calibre of their new staff and said that the graduates had failed to meet their requirements. A mere 3% reported that their new intake exceeded expectations.

The findings are contained in the autumn survey of the RCI, a quarterly survey of UK directors’ and managers’ expectations of future recruitment activity and business conditions over the next six months. The RCI is produced by Cranfield School of Management and The Daily Telegraph in association with People Management.

The findings from the RCI reflect an often repeated concern amongst employers that graduate recruits lack business awareness, interpersonal skills and communication skills. However Professor Shaun Tyson of Cranfield School of Management, commenting on the findings said, “It is interesting that graduates are not exceeding employers’ expectations and this probably has as much to do with attitudes and styles of working. Companies are looking for more engagement with their work on the part of the young graduates. Attracting and retaining graduates is as much about making a match with their lifestyle aspirations and values as it is about finding specific skills and intelligence."

Nick Hill of The Daily Telegraph adds “The findings from the RCI concur with what companies have been telling us for some time now about how disappointed they have been with the soft skills of new graduates. The missing ingredient from many graduate applicants seems to be that their interpersonal skills and communication skills do not match their technical or academic prowess.”

Despite uncertainty over the state of the global economy, only 12% of companies with a graduate scheme say that they have reduced their target numbers in the last 12 months. However, over the same period, 9% of respondees who recruited last year have decided not to recruit graduates this year.

Over a quarter of organisations (28%) are now looking overseas for their raw talent and in their global search France, Germany, Spain and Australia were cited as the most popular source countries.

The average salary for new graduates is £18,124 according to the RCI. Salaries of over £20,000 are on offer from approximately one in five graduate recruiters with only 16% of organisations offering between £10,000 and £14,999.

Some 470 organisations representing a cross-section of business took part in the latest survey.

For further information or a copy of the report contact:
Mandy Rooke, Press & PR Officer, Cranfield School of Management.
Tel: 01234 754348
e-mail: [email protected]