- Graduate job postings have recovered strongly and are well above pre-pandemic levels.
- Internship opportunities remain scarce though.
- The remote share of graduate postings remains well above pre-pandemic levels at almost one-in-five, double the rate for all postings.
- Searches for graduate jobs are subdued, as student numbers remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels.
The graduate job market has bounced back from the pandemic and businesses are actively hiring in 2022. That means employers stand to gain high calibre candidates, while graduates have plentiful opportunities to apply and develop skills and knowledge, while building connections. But subdued jobseeker interest suggests employers may not always find it straightforward to find top graduate talent presently. Meanwhile, remote work opportunities remain high in a number of categories, suggesting employers are willing to offer this flexibility to help attract graduate jobseekers.
Graduate job postings are elevated
Graduate job postings — postings in which the word “graduate” appears in the job title — have recovered strongly from the pandemic. As of 12 August 2022, graduate postings were 43% above the 1 February 2020, pre-pandemic baseline. Employers may be feeling a need to play catch-up with graduate hiring after it slumped in the pandemic. Graduate job postings bottomed out at 63% below the baseline in June 2020 and took another year to fully recover, but have since powered ahead.
That mirrors the performance of the wider UK labour market, where job postings are also well above the pre-pandemic baseline, despite the gloomy economic outlook. As a share of all postings, graduate jobs are up from levels seen in 2020 and 2021 (16% and 15% respectively). But they remain below the two years prior to the pandemic (down 12% and 15% respectively from 2018 and 2019). In other words, graduate jobs fell more than the overall economy early on, and are now catching up to the overall trend, though aren’t quite there yet.
Internships remain scarce
Internships have been slower to recover. As of 12 August 2022, the internship share per million job postings was up 15% from 2021. But it remained well below pre-pandemic levels, down 35% from 2018 and 23% from 2019. It was also 1% down from 2020.
Internships normally give young people another route into employment. For employers, they provide temporary assistance and a potential pipeline for future hires, but are less essential for day-to-day operations. Given that many organisations are grappling with questions around how to manage teams in a remote or hybrid environment post-pandemic, it may be the case that some businesses don’t feel able to properly support internship programmes currently.
Remote share of graduate jobs remains higher than pre-pandemic
The share of graduate jobs offering remote work remains above pre-pandemic levels. Around 19% of graduate job postings contained remote work terms like “work from home” and “home-based” in July 2022. That’s up from just 5% in February 2020 and only modestly below lockdown peaks. It’s almost double the share of remote postings across all jobs (10%), reflecting the remote-friendly nature of many categories that tend to hire lots of graduates.
Accounting, software development and HR have highest remote shares
The proportion of graduate job postings mentioning the possibility for remote work remains high in a number of categories. Accounting has the highest share at 47%. Software development (33%), human resources (29%) and marketing (26%) also have high remote shares. These are all categories that have seen strong growth in the prevalence of overall remote opportunities, which has extended to the graduate market.
Interest in graduate jobs is muted
Though searches for graduate jobs (where the word “graduate” appears in the search) have been rising over the summer in line with usual seasonal patterns, they are running at a subdued level compared with previous years as a share of overall searches (down 15% from 2021 and 7% from 2020). That might be partly due to more young people still undertaking their studies and not yet ready to look for a graduate job. Student numbers rose during the pandemic as job opportunities dried up; though inactivity due to studying has been coming back down over the past year it remains 140,000 higher than on the eve of the pandemic.
The graduate job market is currently offering a lot of opportunities, with employers catching up from reduced hiring during the pandemic. But with economic headwinds mounting and the labour market forecast to soften, current favourable market conditions for graduates might not last. Given that graduating in a recession can have persistent detrimental effects on earnings, students and graduates might therefore be mindful of taking advantage of current opportunities while they last.
We define graduate job postings as those in which “graduate” appears in the title. We identify job postings as open to remote work if the job title or description includes terms like “remote work”, “home-based”, “work from home”, or similar terms, or if the location is explicitly listed as remote. These postings include both permanently and temporarily remote jobs, though employers often don’t specify. For the share of remote postings by sector, a sector must have had a minimum of 90 total postings in both February 2020 and July 2022 to be included. Interest in graduate jobs is defined as any search containing “graduate”. Searches for graduate jobs are those in which the word “graduate” appears in the search.
We define internship job postings as those in which “intern” or “internship” appear in the title.