Following the result of the EU referendum, the number of graduate job vacancies have fallen by 8%, seeing the first drop in four years.
This a worrying statistic for recent graduates as well as students heading back to school or contemplating their first year at university. It comes at a time when a record number of students were accepted into university in 2016, which will in turn cause a greater demand for graduate employment.
The report by Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) proves troubling when, in 2015, many university graduates struggled to find a job. Only 52% are currently in full-time work. Even for those that managed to find full-time employment, a study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) revealed that almost 60% of UK graduates took jobs that are not directly affiliated with their professional qualification, while one in 12 of those found themselves in low skilled sectors, such as hospitality.
Faced with competitive pressures, some candidates may find a more compelling career solution by turning their attention to apprenticeships, according to Elaine Rowlands, head of HR at PCMS. Elaine believes that apprenticeships are an important alternative to university that can often be a more reliable path to full-time and rewarding employment:
“I am passionate about apprenticeships being a credible alternative to university - particularly in a fast-paced industry like retail technology, where new products are shaping the consumer experience every day. Apprentices have an immediate edge by going straight into on-the-job training, gaining the real-life work experience essential to thrive in a competitive sector.
Vacancies in the retail sector have been hard hit according to the AGR report and so apprenticeship opportunities are a great prospect for those wanting to work in the sector. In 2017, the government will launch an apprenticeship levy that will require companies with a pay bill of over £3m a year to make an investment in apprenticeships. This has had an impact on graduate programmes, with one in 10 companies re-packaging graduate roles as higher apprenticeships, further reducing the number of graduate vacancies and making apprenticeships an attractive route into entering a chosen career.
Apprenticeships are advocated by many, including parents, as research suggests two-thirds deem it a top career choice for their child. With the government being urged to boost apprenticeship productivity, alongside their pledge to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, school-leavers may want to consider all their options.