Graduate hiring outlook ‘brighter in continental Europe’

Early results from annual graduate employability survey suggest wide variations in views among firms due to pandemic 

July 31, 2020
lot of graduates crowd together
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Employers in parts of continental Europe think the Covid-19 pandemic is less likely to change their plans on hiring graduates compared with firms in the UK and the US, a new survey of recruiters suggests.

Early results from the latest survey that feeds into the annual Global University Employability Ranking, due to be published in November, indicate that the variations between countries in the handling of the crisis may have created very different views about the effects on universities and graduate employment.

For instance, asked whether their recruitment plans for this year had been changed by the crisis, firms in Germany scored the impact lower than 6 on a 10-point scale, while in Switzerland and France it was below 7. This compared with an average score of about 8 from companies in the US, the UK and parts of Asia.

A smaller proportion of continental European employers also agreed that Covid-19 would “upset the Global University order” compared with firms in Canada, the UK and US. In Switzerland, for instance, just over half (56 per cent) thought that this would be true compared with 85 per cent in the US.

More than 3,000 recruiters spread across around 20 countries were questioned for the survey, which also asked if firms thought online degrees were an adequate replacement for face-to-face teaching.

Here, companies in nations including India and Singapore were often more likely to agree (about 80 per cent), as was a high share of recruiters in the US, UK and Australia (74 to 77 per cent). However, less than 60 per cent of those questioned in France, Germany and Switzerland thought online could replace in-person instruction.

Laurent Dupasquier, associate director of Paris-based HR consultancy Emerging, which produces the survey and ranking, said he had been struck by the national variations, which were not normally so apparent in answers to general questions related to graduate recruitment.

“In our usual surveys, you tend to find, more or less, there is a ‘global outlook’ among recruiters; there aren’t huge differences between countries. In this case, the differences are much, much wider,” he said.

“You find, basically, that those countries that have been less hit in terms of global health policy or economically [by the pandemic] tend to see less impact [on firms’ views].”

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the UK’s Institute of Student Employers, said that although they were picking up some differences internationally on graduate recruitment, the real impact could be felt next year.

“I think the really interesting thing is what happens in 2021, whether the recession forces businesses to hold back on hires [then],” he said, pointing out that it was the year after the 2008 financial crash where there was a problem in this regard.

However, he added that many larger employers might maintain graduate hiring even next year, due to them “looking two or three years down the line” and not wanting to be short of trained graduates when there was an economic upturn.

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Reader's comments (1)

Dear THE team, thank you for the interesting article. Much appreciated! I wonder what this means for the final league table. Recruiters may only vote for universities that are outside their own country - is this still correct? So is it possible that US and UK universities will benefit from French and German votes? While universities in continental Europe suffer because they do not get votes from the UK and US due to the economic situation? In other words: how will the final effect on the rankings look like? Thanks!