Graduate Market Survey

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Graduate Market Survey

Welcome to the 2021 AHECS Graduate Market Survey. This survey is an annual snapshot of graduate recruitment across Ireland. The research results were compiled by the University of Limerick Cooperative Education and Careers Service Division (CECD) on behalf of the Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS). The participants of this survey are active graduate employers who have engaged in graduate recruitment in 2020/21.

2021 AHECS Graduate Market Survey Trends:

 Graduate Recruitment Levels

  • Due to the increased organisation participation rate (from 190 to 302), we have a more accurate representation of graduate vacancies. The jobs available in the graduate market in 2021 reveal the highest percentage of positions open are in the East region at 53%, followed by the South-West at 18%, and the Mid-West at 15%. 14% of the jobs are national, and 31% are global.
  • 75% of respondents indicate they will recruit approximately the same number of graduates as last year, possibly more; this is a significant increase in the previous year (46%). 9% will recruit less than 2020, and 1% will cancel their graduate recruitment plans for 2021.
  • 15% of employers do not know how their graduate recruitment numbers will change for 2021 yet, reflecting the continuing uncertainty in specific sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Salary Ranges

  • The average salary for Undergraduates is €29,087, Postgraduate Master’s degrees is €32,807, and PhD graduates is €35,082. All three award levels have experienced an increase in average salary.

 Who should apply?

  • Of the companies surveyed, 48% are looking for engineering graduates, 33% for business graduates, and 26% for ICT and electronics graduates.
  • 12% of companies surveyed will accept applications from any discipline.

 Application & Selection Tools 

  • Results highlight the importance of having an excellent CV and cover letter, with 84% of respondent employers indicating the requirement for a CV and cover letter at the application stage.
  • The survey results reveal 53% of the organisations use competency/ behavioural-based interviews.
  • Virtual and telephone interviews remain widespread, with 84% and 44% of companies surveyed using this method in their recruitment process.
  • 27% of respondents use presentations, and 11% of respondents use assessment centres. 33% of organisations use strengths-based interviews.
  • Other recruitment screening methods include reference checking (51%) and social media checks (11%).

 Graduate Recruitment Challenges

  • Not surprisingly, the 2021 survey results reveal that Covid-19 is the most significant challenge for employer respondents. The next recruitment challenge is the competition for graduate talent from employers within their sector. They are followed by the number of available graduates from specific degrees/skill sets and graduate expectations at entry-level. 

Top five global technical skills 2021:

1. Analytical thinking

2. Self-motivated

3. Collaborative

4. Flexibility

5. Comfortable with complex situations

 Top five global soft skills 2021:

1. Positive attitude and energy

2. Ability to cope with pressure

3. Work ethic

4. Reliability

5. Seeks opportunities for continuous learning