Skip to main content

The UK’s Most Attractive Employers 2019

By Universum on 09/07/2019

Brexit and Increased Competition From Other Industries See British Business Students Moving Away From Banking

  • Business students are showing less interest in joining the banking industry
  • STEM talent find UK firms more attractive than their business counterparts
  • Employers within the FMCG industry increase in attractiveness while employers within energy and media see considerable dips

LONDON, July 9th, 2019 – Today, Universum launched the findings from the UK portion of its large annual Global Talent Survey. This year saw more than 39,500 participating students from 7 main fields of study, in 97 British universities share their opinions and views on their career goals and ideal employers. Set out to track career aspirations and preferences of the future talent pool, the UK’s Most Attractive Employers 2019 recognises the most coveted employers based solely on the responses collected.

Highlighting the popularity, the international technology giant has over young talent in both fields of study, for the seventh year running, Google has been selected by both those studying business and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as their number one ideal Employer. The top ten on each industry ranking remain very stable, but it is the STEM ranking’s top ten that includes mostly British employers or firms which are still perceived to be British. Six employers in the STEM top ten are British or regarded as such, compared with none in the business ranking top ten.

Business Trends

For business talent Financial Services, Banking and Management and Strategy Consulting remain the industries of choice, however,2019 has seen mixed results for all employers in these fields. KPMG is the only member of the “Big Four” to climb this year, and while PwC and Deloitte managed to remain in the top ten, EY (Ernst & Young) fell from ninth to eleventh place.

While the BBC retained its thirteenth-place spot on the business rankings, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky all fell this year, which supports a growing trend in how millennials and Gen Z are interacting less with traditional media in favour of streaming services and YouTube.

Employers within the Banking industry have also experienced varied results, J.P Morgan and Goldman Sachs retained their respective second and third place positions, however, Morgan Stanley fell from seventh to tenth-place. Outside the top ten, Bank of America, Lloyds Banking Group and Santander climbed to improve their standings since 2018, while Credit Suisse, Citi and RBS all fell considerably from the previous year.

Commenting on this mix of outcomes, Universum Managing Director for Nordics, UK and Ireland, Claes Peyron said “Brexit is obviously a factor that is weighing on the minds of young talent when they consider which industry to start a career in. When we conducted our 2019 survey, the deadline for Brexit was set for March, and there was a lot of media coverage during the field period on which industries would be affected the most by a move away from Europe. Banking is one of those industries, and despite their increased talent attraction efforts over the past few years, this could be why we are seeing varied success rates of employers trying to attract business talent.

“It was only two years ago during the release of our 2017 UK rankings when we reported that Brexit had no effect on talent wanting to join the Banking industry, on the contrary, more wanted to join than in 2016. However, I suspect that the closer we have gotten to the deadline, the more unsure talent have become about joining an industry where jobs are reported to be heading to the continent.”

Peyron continued “Perhaps another explanation as to why we are seeing big gaps between employers in the same industry, is the fact that British talent now consider working for 31 different employers before finally making their choice; this has increased from 22 in the past four years, which is a dramatic development. We are also seeing an increasing amount of UK business talent favouring companies in the FMCG sector. Globally, over the last three years the FMCG sector has experienced a decline in attractiveness, however, the majority of the FMCG firms within the UK top 100 have ascended this year, including L’Oréal which climbed from tenth to ninth place.”

STEM Trends

Aerospace and Defence, Software and the Automotive sector remain the most attractive industries for aspiring STEM talent. Given their preferred industry choices, we have seen a stable majority of British employers as well as those perceived to be British within the STEM top ten.

Describing the contrast from their business counterparts’ choice of in employers, UK Key Account Manager, Dennis Billgren said “I don’t necessarily believe UK STEM talent to be more patriotic than business talent, or think that they are choosing employers based on where they are from. On the contrary, I believe what we are seeing is part of a global trend, where over the past five years the Automotive industry has increased significantly in attractiveness at about the same pace as the innovation in the products this industry is producing.”

Universum, UK Key Account Manager, Nicola Kleinmann added “Electric cars, self-driving cars and an increased amount in safety, has globally recaptured STEM talents’ interest in the Automotive industry. The UK has a rich history of founding some of the best known car firms in the world, many of which are still manufactured in Britain, this could be why we are seeing them retain and stay at the forefront of the STEM top 100, and why we are seeing a decrease in traditional industries like Energy, which has been faltering in their attempts to grab the attention of talent for quite a few years now. UK STEM talent are looking at industries that embrace innovation and new technologies, one of the top three career goals for this group is to be competitively and intellectually challenged, and these car and aeronautic employers are offering them that opportunity”.

The UK’s Top 10 Business and STEM Employers 2019

The Business top ten remains very stable with Google, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs retaining their respective first, second and third places. Apple climbed one spot into fourth place, followed by PwC which fell one place since 2018. Nike climbed one place to become this year’s sixth place holder followed by fellow climber, KMPG. Deloitte fell two places and now sits in eighth place, ahead of L’Oréal in ninth place. Morgan Stanley is this year’s tenth place holder after falling three places since the previous year.


1. Google

2. J.P. Morgan

3. Goldman Sachs

4. Apple

5. PwC

6. Nike


8. Deloitte

9. L’Oréal Group

10. Morgan Stanley

The STEM top ten also remains stable this year with Google, Rolls-Royce and Microsoft keeping their respective first, second and third place positions. Apple moved up one place to become fourth, whilst Jaguar Land Rover retained its fifth-place position. BAE Systems fell by two places to sixth and sits ahead of McLaren, Aston Martin, and Airbus which all retained their respective seventh, eighth and nine-place positions. Lamborghini is this year’s tenth place holder.


1. Google

2. Rolls-Royce

3. Microsoft

4. Apple

5. Jaguar Land Rover

6. BAE Systems

7. McLaren

8. Aston Martin

9. Airbus

10. Lamborghini

Download the full 2019 Universum Rankings and find out more about the career goals and preferences of British talent

About Universum

Universum, part of the StepStone Group, is a global thought leader in Employer Branding. With over 30 years of valuable experience in the field of employer branding, we have established ourselves in 60 markets globally, and our diverse workforce is physically present in 20 countries. We are uniquely positioned through our talent surveys to deliver key insights to recruiters about what future talent is looking for in a company. Our data-led, human and meaningful output has attracted more than 1,700 clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, as well as global media partners that publish our annual rankings and trend reports. Find out more at