University of Southampton: Recent graduates want more support during the job recruitment process, study shows

New research from the University of Southampton and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) has found that graduates would like more support from employers during recruitment, particularly for disabled graduates.

A fifth of those who took part in the research, which explores how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected recent graduates from UK universities, only got as far as the CV/application stage of the recruitment process for graduate level jobs. Over 15 percent applying to graduate-level jobs since March 2020 made over 100 applications.

Many graduates noted that they heard nothing back from potential employers – leaving them particularly demoralised. This may be a contributing factor that has led to 41.5 percent of graduates not feeling supported by employers in recruitment contexts since March 2020.

The findings form part of a wider report by University of Southampton researchers and AGCAS, based on a longitudinal study into how the pandemic has affected recent graduates’ career decisions and outcomes. This study was based on surveys with 2,767 graduates as well as 70 in-depth interviews and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

The research also revealed that graduates with disabilities are statistically less likely to have felt supported by employers during recruitment processes than graduates without disabilities, and more likely to feel that recruitment was challenging.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, 81 percent of disabled graduates are rethinking their futures, 53 percent feel less confident about what they can offer employers and 60 percent feel their skills are not going to be valued by employers.

Commenting on the report, Dr Michael Tomlinson of the Southampton Education School said: “Many participants noted a ‘catch 22’ when applying for jobs – that work experience is needed to gain entry level roles, but opportunities to gain experience, such as internships, had been limited since the pandemic began. Graduates said they would like employers to provide internships to students, clear training pathways and to contact them if they have been unsuccessful.”

Elaine Boyes, AGCAS Executive Director says: “We recognise the excellent work that many employers do to support graduates through the recruitment process, but would welcome commitment from employers to providing more support for graduates who are finding transitioning into the COVID-hit labour market more challenging, both during the recruitment process and through on-the-job support.”

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