Graduates face 'brutal' job market

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

The latest monthly unemployment figures show young people and graduates have been hardest hit by the economic fallout of the Covid pandemic.

Young people have accounted for nearly two thirds of job losses since the pandemic.

Tuesday's unemployment figures remain much lower than they should be. There are five million people on furlough that is set to support workers through to the end of September, but experts predict unemployment will ramp up once it ends.

One group not protected by the furlough scheme are graduates who have found themselves falling through a gap, many unable to get the work experience employers demand to get the job because firms withdrew internships in light of the pandemic.

The issue is compounded by companies slashing their graduate schemes, a crucial first step for many in their chosen career. ITV News surveyed 146 of the top employers in the UK and found 30% of the 71 that responded had made cuts to their graduate schemes since 2019.

Casey Magloire, a 23-year-old postgraduate student, said the job situation for young people in her position was "brutal".

She graduated from Kent University in Politics and International Relations in 2020. She is now studying for a Masters degree in Political Communication at Leeds University after finding no jobs or work experience opportunities available after graduating.

"I think one of the main challenges is that a lot of these entry level roles really want you to have one or two years experience. Or those roles that want you to have experience in an office setting which has been impossible during the pandemic," Casey tells ITV News.

"It's really disappointing, especially when you've worked so hard and you're kind of fed this idea that you go to university and you get a job at the end of it. But it's not really panning out that way.

Casey is coming to end of her Masters and remains concerned about her future.

She says was hoping to apply for a place on the Leeds City Council graduate scheme, but that is no longer being advertised and the council cannot say when it will be able to reopen the opportunity.

Like many recent graduates, Casey thinks the pandemic has set her back and that it will take years for her to get on the career ladder she was hoping to be on after graduating.

"It's really difficult, because it's hard to reconcile the idea that all those ideas of studying and education, everything you learn about doesn't translate into the real world as much as you thought it would," she says.

Casey tells ITV News that graduates fall into a "weird middle area" where they have been unable to get the internships they need in order to get the experience they need to be considered for jobs. And fewer opportunities means tougher competition.

"We're all fighting for so few roles, it's pretty brutal," she says.

Warwick University student Vikram Khosla, 21, echoes Casey's frustrations.

"It's disheartening," he says.

"You go into university, you go into applying thinking you're going to get something at the end of it and to not have, it shatters your dreams, it shatters you aspirations."

His internship was cancelled last summer which, he says, "through his whole career trajectory".

Vikram says he has suffered a great deal of anxiety over his situation.

Graduates face a tough future. Credit: PA

Among the 71 responses from the 146 companies ITV News approached, was BT, which has slashed 50% of its graduate intake since 2019, from more than 400 graduates to 199.

In 2019, BT hired more than 400 graduates; 300 in 2020; down to 199 in 2021.

Meanwhile, estate agent Savills reduced its graduate intake by nearly a third.

Consultancy firm KPMG also slashed their scheme. In 2019 the company recruited 1,362 graduates, in 2020 it feel to 661. Although this year, the firm says they are expecting to recruit around 1,000 graduates.

Kevin Hogarth, Chief People Officer at KPMG, told ITV News the firm cut the graduate intake in 2020 because they "wanted to be careful and cautious" and admits young people face a tough market."The job market is more competitive. There certainly are higher levels of unemployment. I think that the number of opportunities that organisations are offering are starting to increase again.

"We certainly are going to be returning back to the similar sorts of levels of numbers, we're recruiting a thousand graduates, around 250 apprentices during the course of this year. "But we do know that we've already seen something near 50% increase in the number of applications that we received in the first three months of this recruitment season. "So it is a very competitive job market and therefore, graduates, those who are interested in apprentices, have got some pretty stiff competition for the opportunities that are available."