Only 16% of Irish graduates have found work this year 

"What large firms will miss out on if they do continue to pause graduate-hiring schemes is a generation of fresh ideas, digital know-how, and innovation," says Sarah Owen, director of Walters People Ireland

Just 16% of grads have found a job since March, with 70% of professionals directly blaming Covid for their delayed entry into the workforce



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8 September 2020

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Only 16% of graduates looking for their first job since March have been successful, with the new cohort of graduates from the summer set to hit ‘job hunt fatigue’ by Christmas. That’s according to staffing business Walters People Ireland, which recently surveyed 1,500 Irish graduates.

Three quarters of young graduates (70%) directly blame Covid-19 for their delay into the workforce, yet only 6% have taken this opportunity to upskill in other areas outside of their degree choice.

With almost a quarter of young professionals (21%) stating that they anticipate a pay decrease this year, market confidence amongst the young (18-24 yrs) has dropped by almost 20%. In 2019, 85% of graduates felt optimistic about their future, compared to 67% of graduates in 2020.

In addition, the average length of time to find your first job is longer in 2020. In 2019, more than one in three Irish students found their first job before the end of their course or training. In 2020, this has already dropped to one in four students – with the statistics looking to be more strained by the end of the year.

Experience vs potential

“In times of crisis or uncertainty, companies tend to hire experience over potential – which is why the junior-end of the jobs market has been so badly hit,” says Sarah Owen, director of Walters People Ireland.

“However what large firms will miss out on if they do continue to pause graduate-hiring schemes is a generation of fresh ideas, digital know-how, and innovation – hindering Ireland’s competitive advantage in what is an increasingly global market,” Owens adds.

“Typically start-ups and fast-growing SME’s have been quick to hire talented junior professionals who illustrate potential to grow with the business – however with some of the smaller companies hit the hardest, and training & development budgets temporarily frozen; there are less opportunities for those looking to get their first step on the ladder.”

A change in hiring tactics

According to Walters People Ireland, businesses have pivoted their recruitment approach during lockdown which led to a 67% increase in video job interviews and a 40% increase in use of online testing platforms. As a result, the number of job offers made remotely during lockdown tripled compared to the general average pre-lockdown.

Sarah Owens therefore advises young job seekers to approach their job hunt differently post-Covid. “Rather than email or submitting a CV, revamp your approach by creating a quick video detailing your experience whilst illustrating your personality,” she advises. “Start to understand the key words and skills in your preferred job specs and align your LinkedIn and online profiles to reflect this.

A bold approach, she adds, is “the type of mindset that a business is seeking from any new starter, be it junior or someone much more experienced”.



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