The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been tracking the impact on employment. Its bulletins show that employment has been disrupted in every country and that young people and entry-level workers are baring the brunt of the downturn in jobs. This trend is echoed here in the UK (see summary below). 

Most respondents were not anticipating a quick recovery in the graduate market. Looking forward to next year the ISE's research revealed that 15 countries expected that the volume of graduates recruited would continue to decline. Only three countries expected that the market would stabilise (Canada, South Africa and New Zealand) and only three more anticipated growth (Belgium, Poland and the UAE).    

Anticipated growth or shrinkage of the graduate labour market 2020-2021

UK specific impact summary:

1 Firms are cutting entry-level recruitment this year

Respondents have reduced their planned student recruitment for this year by 23%. The reduction in hiring is worse for SMEs than larger firms and for firms in the Built environment, Finance &professional services and Energy, engineering and industry sectors. Reductions are driven by the general uncertainty in the situation and by concerns about financial problems.

2 Recruitment is down for all types of hires, but the impact is least for graduates

Respondents report that they plan to recruit 12% less graduates than they were going to before the Covid-19 crisis. However, they anticipate recruiting 32% less apprentices and school leavers and 40% less interns and placement students.

3 A minority of firms have reneged on existing job offers or plan to do so

14% of respondents reported that they had already reneged on a job offer. Renege rates are particularly high in the Built environment sector (36%) and the Retail & FMCG sector(38%). Looking forwards, 14% of firms were considering the possibility of reneging on more offers this year with the Built environment (28%) and Retail & FMCG (25%)again being the most likely to be considering further reneges.

4 Future recruitment is unclear

Almost 40% of firms have still not finalised their hiring plans for next year suggesting that there is a lot of volatility in the student labour market.

5 Recruitment processes have moved online

Firms have shifted a lot of their recruitment processes online and cancelled most face-to-face activities. There is still much uncertainty about what will happen in the next recruitment season, but there is a strong indication that online recruitment may become the new normal.

6 Employers want universities and schools and colleges to continue to engage with them

Most employers are keen to stay in close contact with all education providers and are particularly keen to keep communications open with universities.They are also keen to see education providers move careers provision online to align with their online recruitment processes.

7 Some start dates for new hires will be delayed

Around a third (31%) of employers anticipate delaying the start dates for new hires. Dates vary, but most are just pushing start dates back a month or two, with a minority shifting start dates to early 2021.

8 Larger employers are more positive about the future than SMEs

While all employers are experiencing challenges and problems due to Covid-19 and the lockdown, large employers were more likely to highlight the upsides of the crisis by discussing potential changes to business flexibility, the introduction of new technologies and increased homeworking. SMEs were typically more concerned with financial problems and business survival.