Graduate Labour Markets Expert, Prospects at Jisc
Vacancies in the science sector are growing rapidly and businesses are actively recruiting. New science graduates need to be equipped with up-to-date knowledge to begin their career in a COVID-19 world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a long-term effect on the job market. In 2020, we saw a sudden fall in employee demand however, much of that fall, especially for graduate workers, was reversed in 2021.
By mid-January 2022, vacancies in the UK had risen to 122% of their pre-pandemic levels and vacancies in science were slightly higher overall and have continued to increase since October, at 129% of pre-pandemic levels.
A high demand for applicants
The rapid recovery of the skilled labour market in 2021 generated occupational shortages. Although much of the attention was grabbed by new shortages in logistics and distribution, long-standing shortfalls in the number of qualified candidates throughout science and technology re-emerged throughout the economy.
According to the January 2022 Quarterly Recruitment Outlook from the British Chambers of Commerce, 79% of firms that attempted to recruit faced difficulties in finding staff.
Hybrid working is the new normal
Hybrid working patterns have become commonplace in many industries. In mid-January 2022, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported in the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey (BICS) that 32% of employees were working from home or in a hybrid pattern, but this varies significantly by sector.
Graduates with direct experience of study during these difficult times have a valuable insight to offer to employers.
Within the critical, graduate-employing sectors of professional and business services, IT and non-school education, well over half the workforce is no longer 100% office-based and have not been since the onset of COVID-19 two years ago. The expectation is that hybrid working is here to stay for many graduate workers and the science sector is no exception.
Learning from the pandemic
The pandemic continues to have an impact on the ability of employers to offer work experience and consequently the ability for students to acquire it. Many new graduates are concerned about the lack of work experience on their CVs, but employers tend to be pragmatic about what they can and should expect from potential recruits.
New applicants should emphasise the unique experiences they have gained from being the only graduates for 100 years to have had to navigate their university experience during a pandemic. Businesses are currently very concerned with these issues and little consensus has emerged on the best way to support hybrid workers. Graduates with direct experience of study during these difficult times have a valuable insight to offer to employers.