Brexit panic for graduates

The ongoing Brexit uncertainty hangs like a black cloud over the hopes and dreams of many new graduates this year

According to research conducted by the UK’s leading graduate job board Milkround, 78% of graduates believe that Brexit is having a significant and adverse impact on their job prospects. The research drew parallels between the global financial crisis of 2008 and the predictions that Brexit will create varying economic pressures in all kinds of industries and organisations.

Half of 2008’s graduates took, on average, eight months to secure their first graduate role, much longer than graduates in the years leading up to the global financial crisis. To compound this further, 58% of those questioned, say that the crisis has had a damaging effect on their career progression, opportunities have been limited and wage increases have not met expectations.

2019 graduates fear that history will repeat itself. They are aware of the economic risks posed by Brexit and the impact that these may have on graduate opportunities in their chosen sector.

There can be no denying the fact that today’s graduates live in uncertain times, but given the current robust state of the labour market UK-wide, it may be that such pessimism is unwarranted. Skills shortages are still evident in a number of sectors based upon statistics collected by the Office for National Statistics. The numbers showed that in areas such as finance, secondary teaching, software development, graphic design, nursing and mechanical engineering, there are continued shortfalls in applications from skilled and qualified individuals.

According to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), which represents many large UK organisations, their members were recruiting 7% more graduates in 2018 compared to the previous year. When employers were asked about the challenges they faced, only 15% referred to Brexit as being one of these.

2008’s graduates did find limitations when applying for posts in their desired career and 50% said that they had to change plans and accept a role in an alternative sector. Graduates in 2019 are showing a similar level of adaptability and 55% are planning to delay their first role by, for example, taking a job in an alternative industry, doing temp work or planning to take a postgraduate qualification.

The Office for National Statistics collected statistics that showed job vacancies in the 3 months to August 2018 set a new record high of 833 000. So the clear message to graduates is that yes, there are jobs, despite the uncertainty that Brexit has presented to the country and to economic forecasters. Applicants will need to be flexible in their approach and perhaps consider accepting roles in alternative sectors other than their primary career choice, but they should not allow the current climate dampen their enthusiasm for progress in 2019’s job market.

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