Employers failing to fill graduate vacancies

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Overall, 5.4% of vacancies went unfilled last year. Of the offers that were made to candidates 7.1% were reneged

More than half (52%) of employers failed to fill their graduate vacancies last year, according to research from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The research surveyed 79 employers, constituting a total of 13,156 graduate jobs available in 2016. Overall 5.4% of vacancies remained unfilled. Of the offers that were made to candidates 7.1% were reneged, representing only a small fall from 8.2% in 2015.

More encouragingly, the research found employers were tackling the issue by improving their relationships with those who had been offered roles. Almost all (97%) communicated with the graduates between the job offer and join date, and 78% held events for their new intake.

Accountancy and banking were the industries worst hit by reneged offers, (10% and 9% respectively). However, the law (2%), public sector (5%), energy, water and utility (5%) and IT and telecoms (5%) industries all experienced below average levels of drop-outs.

AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood said the issue has persisted over recent years. “We are seeing employers struggling to fill their graduate jobs every year,” he said. “While the market for talent remains competitive the trend towards students backing out of their agreements continues to make matters worse.

“Employers are getting a handle on the situation by keeping regular contact with candidates and inviting them to meet with their peers.”

In 2016 Penguin Random House UK dropped its requirement for candidates for new jobs to have a university degree. Director of strategy, culture and innovation Neil Morrison told HR that others could benefit from adopting a similar approach.

“Ultimately if the vacancies are remaining unfilled because there are too many employers looking to recruit from the same pool, then they would be better off looking at changing their requirements and being more creative about their talent acquisition,” he said. “As we’ve seen through the removal of degree requirements at Penguin Random House, more than a quarter of successful candidates (when assessed against the same standards) do not have a degree.

“Companies risk missing out on a group of highly talented, highly capable jobseekers with huge potential by putting in artificial criteria such as educational requirements.”

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