Brexit. Safe to say across the entire UK, there is no escaping it. It is affecting the daily workings and lives of every person and industry from Dunnet Head in Scotland to Lizard Point in Cornwall.
If the future for graduate job hunters after Brexit was an essay question in one of your university modules, there’d be no right answer. In fact, your whole understanding on Brexit would be like the rest of the country, split 52 – 48 on what the heck is going on. With Brexit always in the news and the stream of updates set to continue right up until Britain eventually leaves, it’s time to analyse the impact this will have on graduates seeking jobs.
For graduates, it seems as though there is never a good time to be graduating. The market always seems to be against those graduating and even more so since the UK referendum in 2016. So, how will Brexit affect your graduate job hunt?
1) What does Brexit mean for the graduate job market?
“New graduates who’ve not had any work experience during their time at university have little or no chance of landing a well-paid job with a leading employer” Martin Birchall, High Fliers Managing Director
Uncertainty over Brexit has resulted in many of the UK’s most prestigious employers, primarily in the financial services industry to significantly cut their recruitment of graduates resulting in a fall in the number of graduates in the industry since the global financial crisis.
The Brexit vote has thrown the graduate recruitment at the big international organisations in the financial industry into reverse, after a bumper year for graduate employment in the academic year 2015-16.
Before the referendum, High Fliers found that top employers in the financial industry were aiming to hire upwards of 22,000 graduates in the UK. However, those plans have since been downgraded by the start of 2017 as the Brexit result sank in, with only 19,000 recruited.
According to High Fliers Research, other large UK Employers including PwC, Google, KPMG, EY, Goldman Sachs etc, had found that they downgraded their hiring plans after the Brexit referendum vote. With graduate employers recruiting 10% fewer graduates each year since the end of 2017.
In contrast, there are other sectors that have seen an increase in their recruitment efforts since the referendum. In the public sector, the NHS and the civil service fast stream have seen substantially increased numbers in their graduate hiring. Similarly, the engineering sector has shown a small rise compared with its 2015-16 recruitment.
2) What you can do to strengthen your graduate prospects
“Of the 648 graduates surveyed, 62% say they felt less confident of their career prospects after the Brexit referendum in 2016” KPMG conducted survey in December 2017
Unfortunately, as graduates all across the UK are still, like the rest of the country awaiting the result of the final Brexit agreement, it is too early to tell what its consequences will be. Even when an agreement is met, it could take years for it to take effect and therefore any short term impact should be very minimal.
There are many factors when it comes to your career, both in the short and long term when discussing a post-Brexit Britain. Your choice of profession and specialism will have a huge impact on your future. Therefore, as a graduate, you need to take charge of where you can of your future career. As the graduate market continues to become more competitive, you have to put more time into exploring your options, deciding what to do and making yourself the best possible candidate, to become better placed in the eyes of employers and recruiters.
As a graduate, it is important to highlight that you have the safety lifelong protection that a degree provides against economic shocks, such as what the results of Brexit may have on the economy. In the report published on ‘What do graduates do?’ it suggests just that. ‘Long term trends strongly suggest that there are setbacks ahead for the economy, they will be less severe for graduates than for workers with lower qualifications. The damages to the UK graduate labour markets are likely to be merely temporary’.
Volunteering, part-time jobs, interning, among other things are just a few of the relevant experience students will need on their CV when graduating. If you are interested in learning more, check out our guide for having the perfect CV.
3) How will Brexit affect the industry I want to get into?
There are no shortcuts here – quite simply the only answer to this question is that you will have to do your own research. Employers across all different industries in the UK have expressed the different impacts Brexit will have on their business.
If you do your research on your employer thoroughly, you should be able to find out if any representatives of organisations you want to work for have expressed views on how Brexit is likely to affect their particular specialisms and indeed possibly their industry as a whole. Using this example and their own wording can help answer your question and indeed help with your own understanding on the impacts of Brexit on the industry and what that will mean for you as a graduate in the UK.
4) Can I talk about Brexit at…
Yes. Employer research will help here too – if you’re well informed, you’re more than likely to ask good questions that will elicit a useful answer. Think about what you really want to find out, and work out your questions and how to best phrase them in advance. Career fairs are your chance to meet employers and ask them what you want to know. However, bear in mind that the time you have to talk to graduate recruiters will be limited, so there might be other topics that matter more to you. Don’t feel Brexit is a subject you have to avoid, but focus on retaining and gathering information that helps you understand and improve your job prospects.
If you are given a case study that involves Brexit or you are asked an interview question regarding Brexit or perhaps something about it, you will have to address the subject. Most importantly, drawing on the interviewers’ industry and demonstrating a good level of understanding of current affairs. If Brexit is likely to have a direct effect on the industry you want to effectively join, then having an understanding of the relevant issues will help you show your commercial awareness.
If asked a commercial awareness question, using Brexit as an example
Answering a commercial awareness question using Brexit as your example can demonstrate a good level of research and understanding of current affairs. Similarly, if you have done your research into applying your answer to the organisations impact through Brexit. It is important to understand that answering a commercial question using Brexit as your example will only impress the interviewer if your answer is clear, fact-based example on your commercial awareness than with vague observations or apparently baseless opinions.
5) I’m from the EU – what impact will Brexit have on my career prospects
The information on workers rights from the EU in the UK is still to be debated and negotiated between the UK government and representatives from the EU. Therefore, it is still unclear what exactly will be the new laws in the UK regarding EU graduates career prospects in the UK.
It is important to understand that in many parts of the UK and in different sectors, the current UK government and foreign minister wants to close off their borders and create new jobs for UK workers. In industries dominated by mostly EU workers, the foreign office wants to make these jobs more appealing to UK work. Therefore, as a result, this could create more competition for jobs against EU workers and more difficult finding full-time employment as an EU graduate.
It is important to understand however that the UK economy relies heavily on foreign workers. As an EU graduate, having an additional language, with a university level degree will still be of interest to UK employers.
Information from the government has stated that EU nationalists who are currently enrolled at universities or indeed employed currently within the UK have a legal right to continue to work and thrive within the UK, under existing EU laws in place under the legal laws at the time of entry.
However, future negotiations may change these as no detailed agreement has been met or finalised.