Tempo Blog
August 15, 2019 by Sophie Brockbank

Graduates are seeking alternative routes into the workplace

The third chapter of our research is now live. We look at why graduates are turning their backs on graduate schemes and, as a result, what routes are they taking into the workplace. Click to see our infographic with findings below and read the blog below for further context.

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An increasing number of students are turning their backs on traditional graduate schemes and looking for non-traditional routes into work. Not only are graduate schemes highly competitive, but young candidates entering the workforce have a different perspective on how they want to work and what they demand from the working world. Graduate schemes are perceived to be tied to more traditional companies with different values than young talent entering the workforce have. As a result, an increasing number of graduates are choosing alternative routes into work. In fact, 53% of graduates feeling there is too much emphasis placed on graduate schemes when starting out their career.

Gen Z is entering the workforce with a new set of behaviours and preferences. They have had a hyper-connected, high-tech upbringing and have been exposed to a working world that celebrates entrepreneurialism. With technological advancements lowering the barriers to entrepreneurial activity and granting access to self education, there’s a trend towards graduates wanting to work for themselves; 29% want to start their own business, 25% want to be their own boss and 30% want to be a key member of a small team. By multi-jobbing or working for themselves, this generation doesn’t have to compromise on the lifestyle they choose to lead; they can work when and where they want and pursue what interests them.

Multi-jobbing is seen as an effective way to learn and develop. To remain relevant and competitive, graduates place a large focus on learning and development; 43% want to develop a wider breadth of skills. Developing these new skills no doubt comes from varied experiences; 41% of graduates say they want to gain more exposure to all areas of a business, 28% want to carry out short term/temporary contracts across different companies/industries, and 32% would prefer to build a portfolio career rather than stay in the same company for a long period of time. Multi-jobbing is not only considered an effective way to support a certain lifestyle but also a way to broaden your skill set by exposing you to a range of experiences, functions and industries.

Given the changes in mindset and environment, attitudes towards traditional work structures such as graduate schemes are shifting. 61% of students graduating in the next three years believe graduates schemes are tied to traditional businesses; companies that perpetuate outdated notions of the workplace and may not share their values or perspective of the world. Graduate schemes are perceived as far more rigid, locking candidates into three year placements compartmentalised into prescriptive rotations. This is hardly synonymous with the desire for flexibility and lure of portfolio careers. In fact, 37% feel that pursuing alternative paths will support a more flexible lifestyle.

This is also the case with the wider expectations and drivers of young talent from wanting to make an impact to wanting to work in a diverse and innovative environment. They want to work for companies with a sense of purpose and not just be a ‘cog on a treadmill’ (final year student, Exeter University). The thriving SME and startup scenes are perceived as being more aligned to graduates’ ethical desire to make an impact. As a result, a large percentage of soon to be graduates are interested in entering smaller companies; 39% are interested in working for smaller, more dynamic companies, 28% want to work in a startup, and 26% want to carve out their own role in a smaller company. Here they believe they can make an impact, collaborate in small teams, have a healthier work-life balance and be exposed to a wider set of functions allowing them to learn and develop. As a result, it is no wonder graduates are turning their backs on graduate schemes.


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