LONDON: This year’s graduates are shunning decent salaries, bonus potential and employee benefits in favour of more altruistic aims, according to research.
Graduates are placing less importance on overall earnings and benefits than in 2011, with fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) saying a basic salary is in their top three considerations when applying for a job. This contrasts with almost half (45 per cent) in 2011, according to research from management consulting firm Hay Group, exclusive to the Guardian.
Instead, graduates are increasingly interested in their ability to make a difference, with 51 per cent naming this as a key factor in their job choice compared to just four per cent in 2011.
“There is a perception that all graduate jobs are difficult to get, so you may as well strive for one that will make you feel happy and satisfied, rather than one that makes you feel bad, like working for an ‘evil corporate’,” said Tanya de Grunwald, author of How to Get a Graduate Job in a Recession. “Graduates are not prepared to abandon their principles just because the economy is in a terrible state.”
Martin Allison applied to the Marks & Spencer IT graduate scheme while studying a business studies degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. “You’re given exposure to all aspects of the business as well as the chance to be involved in meaningful projects,” he said. “Obviously not everything changes the world, but often you’ll get a real sense of pride knowing that something you’ve done has a bearing.”
But the research, a snapshot of sentiment based on interviews with 600 graduates who have applied for a scheme, indicates that finding work is more difficult than it was last year.
Just 29 per cent of respondents said they had won a place on a graduate scheme, meaning that for every three or four graduate scheme applications only one is successful.
Christopher Smith of Hay Group said, “There is clearly a gap between graduates’ perceptions of the job market and the reality. Although the latest labour market statistics showed unemployment has started to drop and pay has increased slightly, there is still a very gloomy perception of the UK job market.
“Our research suggests this is starting to filter down and is affecting graduates’ confidence.”
De Grunwald described the mood among recent graduates as “pretty grim”. She said, “I am concerned it is forcing them to make bad decisions — in particular, too many are signing up for expensive master’s degrees simply to delay joining the workforce for another year, but without really knowing whether the qualification is a wise investment or truly valued by employers in their chosen field.”
A July 2012 study by High Fliers Research showed that applications to graduate employers are 25 per cent higher than three years ago.