London, 2014-10-03 — Students in the UK want to work for the best and Universum’s 2014 Ideal Employer Rankings show more than ever how an organisation’s line of business and corporate culture affects their employer attractiveness – more than salary and working hours. Two of the world’s best known brands, Google and Apple, continue to be the Ideal Employers for the UK’s top graduates, retaining first and second place respectively for both Business and Engineering students.
More than 33,000 students, from over 100 universities nationwide, completed the 2014 Universum Student Survey – UK Edition. The research into UK employers of choice took place between October 2013 and March 2014, and explores the career preferences and goals of UK students.
An inspection of the top 30 of the Ideal Employer Ranking for Business students shows a two speed graduate market where financial and professional service employers are falling in the rankings and retail employers taking their place. Barclays fell from 6 to 11; HSBC 7 to 15; Morgan Stanley 11 to 17 and the Bank of England 9 to 18. With the exception of Deloitte, which entered the top 10, climbing two places from 12, all of the Big Four accounting firms have fallen in attractiveness for Business students, with KPMG and EY falling out of the top 10. Taking their place is L’Oreal Group climbing from 17 to 6; The Virgin Group 24 to 8; Coca Cola 14 to 9 and John Lewis 25 to 12. “This is a worrying trend for employers whose graduate recruitment numbers have been steadily increasing the last three years. It seems that some of the previous leading organizations have not yet adjusted to the new desires of top talent,” said Joao Araujo, Universum Country Manager UK & Ireland. “Students are changing their focus to employers with a strong corporate culture and brands they know that they stand for something more than just a product or a service,” Araujo said.
A similar shift can also be observed in the Ideal Employer Ranking for Engineering and IT Students. Energy and transport employers have increased in attractiveness, while electronics based employers fall. Shell has climbed 16 to 7; BP from 14 to 9; ExxonMobil 39 to 20 and EDF Energy 26 to 21. In the other direction, Microsoft lost 2 positions, falling from 2 to 4; IBM 5 to 10; Sony 6 to 17 and Siemens 18 to 23.
The most significant example is Nokia, tumbling 64 places from 22 to 86. Nokia’s new smartphone releases haven’t made positive headlines like Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s S4 and the image of its products is having a direct effect on its employer attractiveness.
“Google and Apple’s dominance at the top of the rankings has a lot to do with the fact that these organisations have embraced soft values such as respect for its people and work life integration. Plus, they have embraced a transparent communication approach, which has been very beneficial to the way they are perceived,” said Claudia Tattanelli, Global Director at Universum. “Innovation is the key driver of Employer Reputation & Image for Engineering and IT students and they only want to work for the best. The perceived market leaders have the pick of top talent,” Tattanelli continued.
Allen & Overy retain the number one spot in the Ideal Employer ranking for Law students, while Google and Apple both climb: 9 to 4 and 14 to 6 respectively. PwC, the only member of the Big Four present in the top 30 has tumbled from 10 to 23, cementing an overall decrease in the attractiveness of the professional services sector. The law firms with the most significant falls are Herbert Smith Freehills from 5 to 29 and Linklaters 3 to 8.
For Natural Science and Medical students we see stability in the top five, led by NHS and GSK in first and second place with no change from last year. Notably, the Armed Forces have climbed from 25 to 8 and Bupa from 19 to 6.
In regard to what is driving these employer choices, work/life balance continues to be the number one career goal. However, under the surface of this arguably aspirational career goal, Business students are striving for job stability, to be intellectually challenged and to be leaders of people. What’s driving UK Engineering and IT students is very similar, but rather than leading others within a corporate structure, young talent is looking for entrepreneurial/creative or innovative challenges. Are they looking for that million dollar start-up opportunity or the culture of London’s Silicon Roundabout?
The main driver of employer attractiveness for both Business and Engineering students continues to be Job Characteristics with Professional Training & Development being the most important attribute for all students. A development theme can be seen within this driver, with students also looking for international & relocation opportunities and challenging work. Fourth on the list is secure employment, critical for paying back those now larger student loans.
Even in light of this, in regards to the driver Remuneration & Advancement, for all students a competitive base salary is only fifth. UK students are planning for the long term with a focus on high future earnings, a clear path for advancement, a good future reference and leadership opportunities. And they want to do it for businesses with the products and innovation to stay market leading in the future.
For more info, contact:
Joao Araujo – Country Manager UK & Ireland