Graduates choosing careers over banks

The tech industry is somehow seen as more relevant to today’s top graduates and their view of the world

In his famous poem, Night Mail, W H Auden refers to “Letters of thanks, letters from Banks”, but it seems that today’s job-seekers are uninterested in snail mail, and none too keen on the financial sector either.

A recent joint study by CNBC and global recruitment firm, Randstad, of over 4,000 Gen Zers and millennials, reported that only 10 percent said they were interested in a career in the financial sector.

By comparison, the majority found the lure of the tech industry far more attractive. These findings confirmed other surveys on career choices, including one from the Financial Times, which reported that graduates from the top 10 MBA schools were avoiding banking as a life choice, following the 2008 financial collapse.

Indeed, in a further survey by Kronos, a US multinational workforce management software and services company, based in Massachusetts, almost a quarter of employees in the finance sector expressed an interest in working in the tech industry.

It seems, according to respondents, that the banking sector is struggling to match what is on offer from tech giants, such as Facebook and Google. Job flexibility, a deeper sense of purpose and innovation are mentioned by 79% as being attractive, and as areas in which the financial sector lags behind.

This perception that the tech industry is more innovative seems to be the major attraction for today’s graduates, and suggests that the financial sector is falling behind in marketing the industry, despite the plethora of tech-based jobs within the banking sector.

Marketing these jobs more aggressively is essential, if banking is to regain popularity with the top graduates.

Respondents said they were interested in companies which created products they use in their everyday lives and which gave back to society, and three quarters of employees in the survey said they were motivated by more than financial reward.

They also wanted to see what the company stood for before joining, including its approach to charitable donations and non-profit work. Work-life balance was also mentioned as a key incentive when choosing a career.

On the plus side for the seemingly embattled banking industry, employers have recognised that long hours and workplace pressure can lead to burnout, and they have followed the tech industry in offering breaks and more flexible distance working to retain employees.

Around three quarters of those approached in the surveys felt that the industry could continue to recover and be more attractive to top graduates.

Nonetheless, it seems the banking industry will have to continue to copy the better working practices of its newer competitor. Its major problems still seem to be that wearing a suit to the office, and working long hours there, is not appealing to potential employees.

Also, the tech industry is somehow seen as more relevant to today’s top graduates and their view of the world.

Auden was strangely prophetic in his poem. Another line refers to “Gossip from all the Nations” – perhaps a prophecy of the impact of the tech industry.

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