Graduates: To Hire or Not to Hire?

The first step toward career success has often been considered going to university and gaining a degree. While more people are graduating from university than ever before, the nation is also suffering from a skills shortage – making it clear that something doesn’t quite add up. To get to the bottom of the issue, CV-Library surveyed over 2,000 UK employees and over 500 leading recruitment experts to uncover the real value of a degree in today’s job market.

Interestingly, the results suggest that graduates might not be the skills gap solution as recruiters reveal the value of a degree is declining – in fact, over a half (52%) of recruitment experts admit they wouldn’t bother getting a degree themselves if they were starting out in today’s labour market. Comparing this to data from last year’s research, CV-Library reports a 2% difference, suggesting the value of a degree is declining and could even by obsolete by 2041.

What’s more, 80.9% of recruitment experts admit that degrees aren’t as important as work experience in today’s job market; many recruiters would rather find a candidate with previous experience than one with a degree alone. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise given 74.2% of UK professionals cited the biggest drawback of working with a graduate is that they lack experience and don’t have a fundamental understanding of business.

So what does this mean for you as an HR professional? Well, it really depends on your business. The data shows us that a degree alone doesn’t make a candidate the best person for the job – and while a graduate with previous experience might be preferable, you shouldn’t discredit a candidate simply because they don’t have a degree.

Depending on your industry, you might require workers who are qualified and therefore you need to ensure they have a degree in your field. In this case the investment of training and developing a university leaver is well worthwhile as they hold the qualifications necessary for the job. However, if you operate in a more flexible industry then your business could benefit from loosening entry requirements for certain vacancies – just because a candidate doesn’t have a degree, doesn’t mean they can’t do the job just as well (if not better!) than a recent graduate.

That’s not to say graduates aren’t a valuable asset to your business. In fact, the CV-Library research revealed that 70.1% of workers believe graduates make a valuable contribution to the workplace. When asked to share the best thing about working with a university leaver, respondents cited their fresh way of thinking, unique perspective and tech-savvy nature as the top benefits. Plus, workers admit they’re fun to have around!   

While there are clearly pros and cons to hiring a graduate, the data suggests that a degree no longer holds the same prestige as it once did. By freeing yourself from this old way of thinking, you could open your business up to a range of new candidates, and learn how to foster success in the next generation of workers. At the end of the day, you have find what works best for your business. 


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