According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2018 survey, employers expect to hire approximately 4% more graduates from the Class of 2018 than they did from the Class of 2017. While the forecasted increase reflects a lower number than in previous years, with 2013 and 2016 seeing gains as high as 13% and 11% respectively, we are still trending in a positive direction, demonstrating a fairly strong market for new graduates.
The survey also revealed that 43.6% of employers plan to increase hiring among college grads, up from the 36% of companies that said they expected to raise their hiring efforts in 2017. Another positive indication of a strong market is only 9.6% of companies reported that they intend to decrease their hiring numbers for the year.
With economic conditions stimulating growth across a number of sectors, employers are faced with the challenge of navigating the tight labor market to satisfy increased hiring goals. This organizational growth paired with retirement and turnover are fueling the need for employers to leverage the estimated 3 million members of the upcoming graduating class.
When tapping into the college labor market, however, organizations are confronted by several barriers, including heightened competition from other employers, lack of candidate interest in available positions, and the absence of key soft skills, according to findings from a Michigan State University study. In fact, 38% of respondents listed the deficit in interpersonal, problem solving, communication, and teamwork skills as a serious challenge they’re striving to overcome. With new legislation lowering corporate tax rates, however, it’s a favorable time for employers to invest more dollars in recruitment and training programs for entry-level college grads.
The healthcare, manufacturing, and construction sectors, as well as the skilled trades and scientific fields, are feeling the burden of the labor deficit the most. In a Deloitte study titled The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing, researchers found that of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that will need to be filled over the next decade, 2 million of those positions will go unfilled due to skill shortages. The manufacturing sector is just one of the many industries recruiting heavily for graduates with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors. Other industries providing growth opportunities for graduates are finance, scientific research, insurance, transportation, and agricultural-related businesses.
In addition to bridging the soft skills gaps, employers must uncover candidates that are culturally aligned with their organization’s internal environment. Providing a company with long-term value not only requires a candidate to hold the proper qualifications, but it also calls for someone who can easily assimilate into the corporate culture, establish relationships with colleagues, and bring a fresh perspective to the team.
The NACE also surveyed new college graduates to see what kind of themes would emerge surrounding what they find important in a new job opportunity. The leading two responses were as follows: 84% want development of job-specific skills and 82.6% want opportunities to expand their applied skills. Recent graduates also listed job security (82.2%), friendly co-workers (81.2%), and a robust benefits package (74.3%) as criteria they deemed as key influencers in their decision-making process.
As your company works to devise a sound strategy around college graduate recruitment, keeping these stats in mind will help create harmony between the needs of this talent pool and what your company has to offer.