Graduate opportunities in 2021: what to expect

Posted in: Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence

In November we gave you an update on how the graduate labour market was faring. As we’re now in a new year, we thought it was a good time to give an update and also look forward to what we can expect in 2021.  

We recently attended an excellent webinar hosted by Charlie Ball from Prospects Luminate and Rebecca Fielding from GradConsult who shared their predictions and insights for 2021. So what can we expect?  

How are things looking right now  

We’re back in another lockdown – so things are still not at the same level they were in previous years. Estimates reckon that vacancy adverts are at 70% of normal levels. However, this is really sector dependent and many sectors are still actively recruiting.  

It is also worth emphasising that sectors that recruit lots of graduates are generally less impacted. So the doom and gloom you might see on the news about the broader labour market doesn’t necessarily all apply to graduate jobs! There are definitely employers still recruiting graduates.  And with the vaccine rollout underway, there is lots to be hopeful about. 

Graduate opportunities in 2021  

So what can we expect to change in 2021? Well, for graduate jobs it is expected to be better than 2020. With the vaccine rollout, predictions suggest that there will be an increase in vacancies as we progress through the year.  

Don’t overlook SMEs 

In the UK, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up 99% of all businesses. Although organised graduate schemes are not common in these businesses, they do regularly recruit graduates. As they can be much more agile and responsive than larger organisations, it is expected they will bounce back and start recruiting earlier. In addition, research from previous recessions show that SMEs are the first to increase recruitment.  

However, SMEs don’t always advertise jobs, so networking, word of mouth and speculative applications are necessary alternative job-hunting strategies. Why don’t you start networking now, from the comfort of your home? Start those relationships now and you never know how this may benefit you in your job search when SMEs will be looking for new hires for immediate starts closer to the summer.  We have more information about SMEs and why you might want consider working at one on MyFuture.  

Be flexible 

If you find that there are few positions available in your preferred career pathway, make sure to be flexible in your career planning. How or where else can you use the skills that you have acquired from your degree, work or voluntary  experiences these last few years? In addition, are you widening your horizons about what jobs and sectors are available to you with your degree?  

Did you know that there are plenty of opportunities that don’t require a specific degree or may be more flexible on degree subjects than you might expect? Find out more about graduate jobs that are open to all disciplines.  

So if you have a Chemistry degree, did you know that you can still apply for graduate roles within policy in Civil Service? If you have a psychology degree and enjoy numbers, you may still be able to apply for a Data Analyst role in a finance company. As a sport science student with an interest in technology, you might be able to apply for positions within health technology and so on. Have a look at what some of our Bath grads have gone on to do for inspiration. 

Virtual working and recruitment 

A third of the workforce is currently working from home and rates are higher in industries that recruit large numbers of graduates like IT and consulting. Many companies have seen benefits of virtual working so you might find that graduate job vacancies over 2021 continue to offer remote and flexible working options. This might mean you can be more flexible about locations. You may be able to work in London, without actually having to live in London for exampleAnd if you need to be based in one location, jobs in the whole country could still be open to you! 

Employers have also found benefits to online recruitment like video interviews and virtual assessments. So you might still experience these even if there is a return to the “normality” of some office working.  You can find lots of resources on MyFuture to help you prepare for virtual recruitment stages.  

All this remote working might also create new jobs. There is a lot of interest in wellbeing of remote-based workforces so there could be some exciting new opportunities to work in areas around wellbeing and mental health for home workers.  

Take home message 

We want to reassure you that there is no need to panic if you haven’t finalised your plans for after  graduation yet. Or have graduated but haven’t found quite the right position so far. There are still opportunities available and we are likely to see more opportunities being advertised as things improve throughout this year.  

Start researching SMEs, follow interesting companies online and network with alumni in job roles you are interested in.  

Flexibility is key. Remember, have a plan A, plan B and so on and consider widening your career options to career pathways outside of your degree. The ‘linear career path’ is increasingly a thing of the past. 

It is clear that remote working and remote recruitment may well be here to stay. So it is worth preparing yourself for virtual interviews and other recruitment stages 

If you need further support – we are here to help you at every stage of your career journey. Find resources, events, appointments and much more on MyFuture. 

Source for labour market data and trends: Prospects Luminate
This blog was written collaboratively by Aste Dahl, Ghislaine Dell and Rebecca Wray

Posted in: Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence


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