Employment

Firms cut back on graduate roles as Covid jobs crisis continues 

Many of those leaving university this summer, having paid tens of thousands for the privilege, could find themselves struggling to find jobs

KPMG usually has hundreds of graduate roles but the market is very competitive. Image credit: Paul Wilkinson / Flickr

KPMG usually has hundreds of graduate roles but the market is very competitive. Image credit: Paul Wilkinson / Flickr

Businesses have made cuts to their graduate schemes as the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

According to ITV News, which surveyed 146 of the top employers in the UK, 30 per cent of the 71 that responded had made cuts to their graduate schemes since 2019. 

Many of those leaving university this summer, having paid tens of thousands for the privilege, could find themselves struggling to find roles or competing with graduates from last year who are still seeking opportunities. 

Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

In February, The Big Issue heard from Bec Oakes, 25, from Burscough, West Lancashire, who was working in a local supermarket to keep herself afloat. 

Oakes found many of the coveted graduate schemes she wanted to apply for put on hold. 

“I got quite far in the application process for the BBC graduate scheme in Manchester, which I really had my heart set on,” she said. 

“And then, all of a sudden, I got an email saying that due to the pandemic it wasn’t going forward for the year ahead, and at that point I was like, ‘Oh, crap, what do I do now?’”

“It seems to be people of university age and the five or so years that follow who are getting completely forgotten about,” she added. 

The latest monthly unemployment figures released this week show a small monthly decrease in the number of payrolled employees in total in March 2021 – with 56,000 fewer people were in work from the month before. 

Those aged 16-24, who are more likely to work in industries such as hospitality that have been shut down by successive lockdowns, account for nearly two-thirds of job losses since the beginning of the pandemic.

The percentage of all young people who were not in education, employment or training was estimated to be 11.6 per cent in the latest figures

Article continues below

Current vacancies...

Search jobs

Kevin Hogarth, chief people officer at accountancy firm KPMG, which usually recruits more than a thousand graduates every year, told ITV the company had taken on fewer university leavers in 2020. 

“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,” he said. 

“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 per cent 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.”

The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance has brought together 30 organisations to come up with fresh ideas to tackle the crisis. 

The RORA Jobs and Training platform was launched in January as a “one-stop-shop” to help people get back on their feet. It includes  a free three-month digital subscription to The Big Issue, a weekly newsletter with tips on job hunting and access to free or discounted training, 

On The Big Issue Jobs site, there is also the option to search through hundreds of thousands of jobs and access tips and advice on how to land your next position.

Career tips and advice from our Jobs and Training series:

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Workers blame Amazon's 'union-busting' after losing historic union vote: 'This is not the end'
Workers' rights

Workers blame Amazon's 'union-busting' after losing historic union vote: 'This is not the end'

'Huge mandate': Brits of all political stripes want stronger rights for workers, poll finds
workers' rights

'Huge mandate': Brits of all political stripes want stronger rights for workers, poll finds

From a new UK pilot to union backing: The four-day working week has never been closer to reality
Four-day working week

From a new UK pilot to union backing: The four-day working week has never been closer to reality

'It's David vs Goliath': Inside Amazon workers' historic battle for trade union recognition
Trade unions

'It's David vs Goliath': Inside Amazon workers' historic battle for trade union recognition

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

The Big Issue

Sign up to get your FREE Doctor Who Archive Special

Celebrate the 14th series with your FREE edition of the Dr Who Special Archives