Today’s higher education trends are tomorrow’s recruitment challenges
By Ed Layt
When it comes to graduate recruitment, it pays to be prepared. And if you want to see what’s coming, there’s no better place to look than the Higher Education sector. After all, this is where much of the talent of the future is going to come from.
Put simply, what’s happening in universities today will have an impact in tomorrow’s recruitment world. And the more you know now, the better prepared you’ll be for the challenges, and opportunities, that lie ahead.
So, what is happening in higher education?
The biggest trend we’re seeing is in applications. Since 2012, the undergraduate market has been growing steadily. It peaked in 2016, with over 535,000 accepted applicants – up 15% from 2012. This means that, from 2015, the number of graduates leaving university has been growing. So far, so good news. But in 2017, this growth in enrolments will end.
Undergraduate applications this year will be down 4% on last year. This translates to around 20,000 to 25,000 fewer students. Enrolment numbers are not expected to bounce back to 2016’s levels until 2024. This, of course, will have a big impact on the amount of graduates entering the job market between 2020 and 2027.
Why the drop? Well, there’s not one answer to this. EU applications are 6,000 fewer than expected, no doubt fuelled by Brexit. Mature student applications are down 12,000, due in part to a buoyant job market. And applications from 18 year-olds are down 7,000, due to nothing more complicated than a reduced demographic.
In all of this, some subjects are being hit harder than others. Nursing is faring the worst, and there’s no question that recent changes regarding funding and bursaries are playing a big part in this.
Universities are already responding. But clearly, there are challenges ahead for employers in terms of workforce planning. The oft-mentioned war for talent looks set to get that little bit fiercer. If you want to keep on turning the heads of the best candidates, your employer brand is going to have to be more distinctive, attractive and compelling than ever. And, of course, we can help you make sure that it is.