Employers are being urged to take advantage of ‘golden hello’ recruitment and training subsidies before an expected government review puts their future in jeopardy.
The call came as official figures revealed that 10% of graduates who left UK universities last year were unable to find jobs, up from 8% last year. The number could soar to up to 25% over the next few years as a direct result of planned public sector cuts, however.
Specialist IT recruitment consultancy Redrock Consulting is advising organisations to go for a recruitment and on-the-job training grant worth up to £2,500, which was announced last April by the then Secretary of State for Work and Pension James Purnell.
The grant comprises a £1,000 subsidy plus access to an additional £1,500-worth of in-work financial support dependent on employers’ location. It is currently available to organisations recruiting anyone who has claimed Jobseekers Allowance for six months or more, but is expected to come under review as part of swingeing government budget cuts.
Redrock partner Jimmy Lloyd, said that a lot of good candidates, especially those who do not wish to relocate, had been out of work during the recession. “But now clients are recruiting again and looking for well-qualified and committed staff to manage the upturn they’re currently experiencing. It makes sense for companies to bring down the cost of recruitment if they can – and this is currently one of the ways in which they can,” he added.
And the pool of such well-qualified staff is only set to grow. According to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency based on a survey of 205,000 former students, the jobless rate among 2009 graduates is now at its highest for seven years. The number managing to find employment six months after graduation fell to 59% compared with 62% the previous year.
But the figures also showed that any chances of finding work were strongly linked to their choice of college subject. While no medical graduates are currently unemployed, 17% of former computer science students are out of work as are 14% of those who studied mass communications.
But the situation is only expected to get worse due to the fact that a disproportionate number of “non-frontline public sector jobs” go to graduates, according to the Higher Education Careers Service (HECSU), a charity that supports university careers services.
It estimates that 39,000 public sector jobs are taken up by graduates every year. But the independent economic forecasting body, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility, this week predicted that 4,900 public sector positions could disappear by 2015 and 610,000 by 2016. This means that the next four years are likely to be the toughest ever for new graduates.
Charlie Ball, HECSU’s deputy research said: “Even if only a fifth of them were to go and not be replaced, then that would more than double graduate unemployment for the cohort affected in one fell swoop. That would put graduate unemployment over 20% and pushing towards 25%.”