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Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.
Mike Boxall, an independent researcher and consultant on higher education policies and strategies, and a senior adviser to PA Consulting, considers the emerging post-COVID world and its implications for the future of universities. His blog is based on a paper published recently by PA Consulting, and co-authored with its HE lead, Ian Matthias.
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An annual survey by the Institute of Student Employers' has reported a "resilient" graduate labour market with 10 per cent more jobs than the previous year.
Nearly 22,000 new graduate jobs have been created in the past year - mainly driven by significant increases in finance and professional services as well as public sector employers who recruited 35 per cent more graduates, particularly in policing and education.
Since the 2008 recession graduate jobs have grown 10 per cent or above on just two other occasions - in 2013 and 2014. While this suggests a buoyant market, employers are cautious: the short-term and temporary hire of graduates through internships or work placements has dropped by 4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Employers also anticipate that Brexit and/or a recession will reduce hiring over the next five years.
The energy and engineering, and legal industries were the only sectors to make small reductions in the number of graduates they recruited, down 1 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
Employers had challenges recruiting graduates for engineering, IT programming and development, and technical and analytical roles. Actuaries, electronic engineers, prison officers and quantity surveyors were also highlighted as shortage areas.
The average graduate starting salary offered by ISE members remains competitive at £29,000. This was up £750 on last year, however, when indexed to the Consumer Price Index, salaries have not recovered to pre-recession levels in real terms. Graduates entering law, finance or IT are the most highly paid.
Employers have also increased hires onto school leaver programmes to more than 6,000 - up by 7 per cent on the previous year.
The average ISE member is paying £1.225 million annually to the government through the apprenticeship levy. They reported starting 11,224 apprentices this year of whom 52 per cent were non-graduates, 25 per cent graduates and 23 per cent existing staff.
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of ISE said: "Although the drop in temporary opportunities is concerning as this offers students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, employers are mainly resisting the urge to dial down their recruitment in the face of current and future challenges.
"Hiring is up, employers are receiving a healthy volume of applications and they are paying more. We hope that this continues and will do everything that we can to support firms as they manage the uncertainty that lies ahead."
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