We explore the impact on organisations’ capability if they fail to embrace this year’s graduate cohort.

Four million students will graduate into the pandemic economy by July 2020. Under normal circumstances, many of these talented, young people would have secured graduate jobs or their place on graduate schemes at SMEs and leading organisations across the UK. The companies that understand the value that the emerging workforce brings are often in fierce competition to hire their pick of the nation’s best graduate talent.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 60% of Generation Z typically secured a graduate position before leaving university. Now, just 18% of this summer’s graduates have a job lined up. But with the UK government and businesses focusing on preserving existing jobs, graduate opportunities are quickly disappearing.

According to a recent Institute of Student Employers report, as a result of Coronavirus, 27% of companies spoken to say that they’ll be recruiting less graduates. This is due to many organisations having temporary recruitment freezes, with some rescinding graduate job offers and even cancelling all recruitment in 2020. Google, HSBC, PwC and Lloyds Banking Group are just some of the leading organisations that have changed their recruitment plans in response to the pandemic.

In the case of many organisations, these are recruitment pauses with the intention of delaying graduates’ start date to September or deferring them to next year’s graduate intake. Whilst a well-intentioned, and indeed necessary, decision for many organisations, the knock-on effect for graduates and their employers is significant.

Graduates and employers have a symbiotic relationship. So, less opportunities for new graduates has a knock-on impact on the organisation’s talent pipeline. Beyond the inevitable financial impact that graduate recruitment freezes will have on this summer’s new working cohort, graduates are essential to organisations’ day-to-day operations, transformation programmes and the development of future leaders.

For many organisations, it’s a commercial reality that they will not require as many graduates in 2020. For others it’s a rapid response that they may find leaves them short of capacity and capability during 2020 and 2021. If not handled correctly, the long-term impacts can be severe.

In previous economic downturns, employers who didn’t effectively handle candidates in their pipeline for internships and graduate positions earned a negative reputation in the graduate job market. Once they were ready to recruit graduates again, they had to spend additional money to combat their resourcing difficulties and attempt to undo reputational damage.

In the meantime, without graduates, organisations won’t have the resource to continue to support their operations or drive forward their transformation programmes. For sectors such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and financial services, customer volume is higher than ever. But organisations will lack a pool of adaptable graduate talent ready to support this increase in demand that’s likely to continue over the coming months.

Despite the challenging pandemic economy, organisations remain reliant on the emerging workforce to support today’s increased service demand and to become tomorrow’s successional talent.

HR Director at Pollinate, Anna Moore says: “We use Grayce Analysts where we want a fresh look at things, and we need a versatility of bright, capable people who can put their hands to a whole lot of things…Grayce have been able to help us with successional talent. We want to find the next generation of senior experts that might come through and hopefully some of the Grayce Analysts will be that.”

Grayce recruits graduates year-round for our three-year Development Programme. And COVID-19 has not stopped this. We remain committed to offering meaningful opportunities to the emerging workforce, whilst helping FTSE100 & 250 organisations nationwide to deliver change and build sustainable talent pipelines.

We continue to discover and develop the UK’s best graduate talent. Our dedicated Talent Team have transitioned our recruitment process to be entirely virtual, whilst still accurately assessing candidates for the essential skills and attributes needed to add value to organisations’ change programmes from day one.

Grayce Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica Bolton says: “What underpins our recruitment approach is a commitment to giving a personal service that’s bolstered by a deep understanding of our clients and our Analysts. We assess candidates’ academic ability, technical skills, their values and their attitude.”

In the past month alone, we’ve virtually onboarded over 15 new starters and deployed them to organisations across pharmaceuticals, legal services, payments and investment management. Grayce has also given virtual business analysis training to a number of our Analysts, so they can continue to add value to their clients. In addition to this, our Analysts have independently completed over 707 online learning courses over the last quarter, covering topics such as project management, Agile techniques and programming languages.

Grayce Analyst, Emily Harrison says: “Grayce offers a reliable and trustworthy route for finding the right graduate for the role. Grayce candidates are adaptable and communicative and we’re from a variety of academic and social backgrounds, meaning we’re able to offer a fresh and unique perspective in the workplace.”

In recent weeks, Grayce Analysts have been deployed to support NHS programmes, driving reductions in manual document handling and supporting Nightingale hospital resourcing, along with many taking on additional responsibilities to help their clients’ COVID-19 responses.

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