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Analyse this In April, we


plan to keep up the momentum with a new industry-wide survey on improving diversity and access.


Policy Samuel Gordon T


ime flies, doesn’t it? It is amazing to think that it is 2016 already!


It is going to be an exciting twelve months for AGR research. To add to our new projects, we will be working harder to share what we find and help you use it to influence change. I thought I would start by explaining what is coming up.


In March, we will be launching the findings from our first Development Survey at our annual Development Conference. This wealth of insight from over 190 employers includes revised estimates of the cost of developing graduates and apprentices, as well as rates of salary progression, use of outsourcing and more. This more robust information should help your organisation respond to the government’s apprentice levy.


As part of this launch we will be highlighting nine specific skills gaps and how our industry is addressing them. The findings are fascinating, and we look forward to sharing insights on the method and duration of skills training and how this varies both by sector and by size of firm. Given the emphasis of government on productivity and a highly skilled workforce, we will also be exploring why 67% of firms are not measuring the impact of skills training.


In April, we plan to keep up the momentum with a new industry- wide survey on improving diversity and access. In this survey, we will be asking employers about gender, social mobility, and pay gaps as well as actions to address these. With the government making social mobility a core focus of its education reforms, we will be creating benchmarks and tools to help you plan ahead.


By June, we will also have clearer estimates of the relative market sizes for graduates, apprentices and school leaver vacancies. In 2014, the number of school leaver and apprentice vacancies were 7% and 27% of graduate vacancies respectively. We expect this to change, however. Clearer estimates will help us to track the effects of the apprentice levy and high tuition fees over time.


We will also be thinking about companies of different sizes. For example, late last year, the government promoted name- blind job applications as a way to improve the diversity of graduate hires. Changing selection processes seems like a good step, but there are a couple of nuances to this approach which are worth exploring. On their own they will not be enough to drive big changes in diversity.


First, it is worth reminding ourselves of the nature of graduate selection. The typical process for selecting a hire is 11 weeks long - almost three months! With 92% of firms using assessment centres, 74% using face-to-face interviews, and 71% using some form of psychometric tests, it is also getting more sophisticated.


For large firms, this is both a good and a bad thing for trying to make changes. On the one hand, having a robust selection process can make it easier to innovate, because changing the criteria for entry will not have a massive impact on the quality of hires at the other end. At the same time though, the resources and number of people committed to the status quo are high and can take a lot of effort to shift.


SMEs face slightly different challenges. The burden of filtering applications is actually higher for smaller companies: the smallest intakes of graduates get 94 applications per vacancy while the largest intakes get only 20. That


first stage of the process matters slightly more. However, the number of staff who need to adjust to change is also much lower.


Firms of different sizes face different constraints in changing their selection. Measures to improve our market increasingly need to be taking these differences into account.


Having a robust selection process makes it easier to innovate. It is no surprise that some of the boldest approaches to diversity, like dropping UCAS tariffs, name-blind applications, gamification and even university-blind applications, are coming from those employers with the largest intakes. A policy to change selection criteria will be easiest for the larger employers to adopt.


For smarter policies around graduates, the government should be taking the size of graduate employers into account, as well as all other measures they hope to bring in.


www.agr.org.uk | Graduate Recruiter 31


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