GRADUATE jobs in engineering have dropped 14% over the last year, according to a survey of UK employers.
The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) reports that a survey of its 208 member companies – employers of 2.5m people across the UK – found the total number of graduate positions has fallen 13% to 19,732 jobs from 21,427 last year. The engineering and industry sector saw the second largest drop (down 14%) after retail (down 16%), as the number of positions fell to 1,820 jobs from 2,106 a year ago. AGR members in the engineering sector include GSK, Johnson Matthey and Shell.
The decline follows four years of sustained growth, with overall graduate positions climbing 13% last year. AGR says that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is a key challenge facing employers. The engineering sector has been badly affected by the oil price crash, which has seen spending reduced and projects cancelled, leading to jobs lost throughout the engineering supply chain.
AGR CEO Stephen Isherwood said: “The labour market for young people is shrinking for the first time since the financial crisis, but the composition of the market is also changing as employers invest more in school leaver programmes and apprenticeships.”
AGR says the loss of graduate positions has been affected by the government’s Apprenticeship Levy, which from next year will shift much of the cost of funding apprenticeships away from the state by taxing companies that have a wage bill exceeding £3m/y (US$4m). The scheme is set to raise £3bn/y for training and create 3m apprenticeships by 2020 as firms that pay in are incentivised to recoup the money by creating their own apprentice positions.
More than one in ten employers is repackaging some graduate roles as higher apprenticeships due to the levy, the AGR survey discovered. The number of apprenticeships is set to climb by 13% to 10,095 positions. Further breakdown by sector is not yet available, with the full dataset scheduled for publication on 29 September.
Overall, the combined number of vacancies for graduate jobs and apprenticeships has fallen 3% year-on-year.
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.