Thursday, 2 January 2014

What will the graduate jobs market be like in 2014?

I am obviously horrified and disgusted that those swine from the GRB have stolen my exciting and unique schtick and blogged about it in the Guardian.

Although I am heartened by the fact that, to be honest, I don't agree with bits of it.

Enough about the other lot, what do I think?

At this point I have no doubt you expect me to take 8,482 words to explain in detail, possibly with graphs, that 2014 is going to be much like 2013.

Well, I'm not. I don't have any graphs and I'm using a borrowed computer, because Reasons, and so I can't upload them anyway.

But mainly because I'm not sure 2014 is really going to be like 2013. I think 2014 is the year the graduate jobs market shows signs of recovery. Economic confidence is up, and manufacturing and services data looks a little more optimistic. Employers are predicting jobs growth. I'd expect the early graduate unemployment data in late June to show around 8%, a little down on the figures for the last few years.

I disagree with Anna's piece in the Guardian about IT - I would bet my brand new depressingly large mortgage that IT graduates will retain their unwanted place at the head of the unemployment league table. Things might pick up a little, but I don't see a large surge in IT graduate employment this year. Those who do get work will probably get decent salaries, and small businesses will remain very important - last year nearly a third of new computing graduates got jobs at companies with less than 100 employees, with recruitment companies and personal networks the most common way to find those jobs.

STEM - on the up?

The jobs market will probably improve for graduates from most science and engineering disciplines - particularly for engineers, who have really suffered over the last few years. Although there may well be growth in employment in small specialist engineers, especially those with a good export presence, engineering recruitment will continue to be dominated by the larger firms, and if you want to gauge the engineering jobs market as the year goes by, you could do worse than keep an eye on the big players. I'm not sure that the prospects for biology graduates will necessarily improve though - their jobs market seemed to worsen last year.

Financial and business services to grow

Economic recovery in the UK will necessarily involve growth in finance and business services. Marketing and PR has been a graduate success story in the last few years and has been drawing graduates in from all sorts of disciplines - the rise of digital media and content means that graduates with good IT skills have a niche in marketing - and I don't see any reason why that won't continue. I'm not sure we'll see a huge increase in financial services recruitment but we will probably see a little growth.

Cities on the rise

Although things are broadly positive, this recovery doesn't look very evenly shared out at the moment. It's pretty focussed on London and the south-east, although I'd expect those cities that have weathered the recession reasonably well - Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, in particular - to probably share some of the joy. Aberdeen's unique jobs market will probably mean another good year for engineers and technical graduates wanting to move up there. But if you're outside those areas, particularly if you're in a smaller town, or in the north of England or Wales, you probably won't see much of a sign that the graduate jobs market is picking up at least at the start of the year. I expect regional and local differences to become more pronounced in the early part of the year - more graduates in the north-west and north-east moving to Manchester and Newcastle respectively, more graduates everywhere heading for London. It remains to be seen whether it'll be a temporary phenomenon or whether a small but subtle permanent realignment of skills concentrations is underway.

In summary

I think the Class of 2014 will find the jobs market a little more welcoming than their counterparts from the last two or three years. Not where it was pre-recession, but a little kinder. Unemployment in DLHE will be about 8% and starting salaries around £20k as they were this year. They'll still have to work hard - very hard in many cases - to find work, but they might find it a little easier and they'll have careers staff who are now well-versed in recession job-hunting to help them out. Happy New Year, and good luck to everyone.


David Gilchrist said...

Hi Charlie. Intriguing post as always. This is a bit specific but would you have any commentary on specifically the Telecoms sector, not just the wider technology/IT sector?

Charlie Ball said...

Good question Dave, and like all good questions, one I can't answe easily.

Last year, much recruitment into telecomms was in either IT (especially software development), or marketing/sales. In total just under 900 UK-domiciled first degree grads started their career in telecomms.

I'd expect marketing recruitment and IT recruitment to at least hold up - there's still broadband rollout taking place, for example, and the Bank of England reports that business spend on IT services is healthy and there may be skills shortages in IT and engineering even in the current jobs market.

We'll see though!