Universum logo

Gen Z tells who they think are the Most Attractive Employers in the UK in 2023!

By Universum, 2023-06-20

Business & Engineering Students drift away from Tech. - DE&I Highlights from our research. - Remote working, the view from Students in 2023.

Big Tech: Are Gen Z losing the love of the Tech giants in 2023?  

It’s been a tough year for the big-name tech brands. Redundancies have impacted their appeal as an employer. Even Tech students, the heartland of natural applicant flow for top ranked companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft; have lost a little love with those 3 companies, as well as Amazon, Netflix and Facebook. Each of those companies has lost between 4.5% and 6% of their brand appeal with Gen Z since 2022.  

So who is in demand? Gaming is roaring forward in Tech, slowly eating into the share of mind amongst tech students – Rockstar Games jumped 4 places to be the 6th most attractive company, and Ubisoft rose 3 places to be 8th. Consulting firms hit the mark this year too; PwC, Accenture and Deloitte making good moves with tech talent; and in media BBC and ITV had noticeable rises.  

Students in Tech are showing us that they are driven more and more by clear evidence of flexible working and delivering on wellbeing and work-life balance.  

Regardless of the percetage hit, Google still keeps the spot for tech students, with Microsoft and Apple not far behind.  

Consulting Firms make moves with Business Students  

Whilst we see Google, JP Morgan and Apple continue to lead the way; albeit also with lower percentages than 2022 and 2021 with Business Students, it’s been a positive year for Consulting & Tax firms – after some struggles in recent years. PwC led the way amongst them, rising to 7th in the rankings, with Deloitte and KPMG right behind in 8th and 9th respectively. EY are behind but catching up – moving 4 places from 17 to 13th most attractive employer in UK, for the business students.  

It’s a tough year for Investment Banking. Barclays, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley all lost appreciation with business students. Fashion Retail also had a tough time this year.  

In terms of the trends, once again work-life balance is in demand as an employment feature the students in business are looking for, as well as flexible working. This subject is not going away fast; despite moves in corporate business to more presenteeism.  

Rolls-Royce leads the Aerospace Engineering race 

Once again, Rolls-Royce leads the rankings for Engineering students, holding off the close attentions of McLaren from 2022, and instead increasing their appeal over the leading automotive firm. But it’s the other Aerospace & Defence firms that are making good progress, BAE Systems jump to 3rd, and Airbus to 4th. Boeing rose in percentage in 7th, and Lockheed Martin hopped back into the top 10.  

Tech is losing ground with Engineering graduates and students. Google and Apple are no longer in the top 10 and Microsoft dropped out of the top 20.  

There is an increasing demand for Innovation amongst this group, and clearly they are seeing it in Automative and Aerospace. Pragmatism comes to play too, with continuous appeal from engineering students to understand and choose based on starting salary.  

Reflecting on all the rankings, Universum’s Head of Employer Branding solutions for the UK, Steve Ward, said “We were anticipating a hit on tech companies, and sure enough that seems to be the big story of the new student research. The shift is not seismic, it represents merely a behavioural change from instant magnetism towards those big funky names, towards second or third layer thinking – especially when the rising demands of students continue to be around security, work-life balance and ethics; alongside the ever essential salary and career packages. Tech companies; rather like industries like Hospitality and Travel after the pandemic; need to spend some quality time working on how to reassure emerging talent in their employer brand strategies, that they remain on a progressive trajectory, or risk being usurped in catching the eye of Business and Engineering students.” 

Inclusivity Data shows telling stories.  

Universum’s greater analysis into questions around diversity, and the increased segmentation of the insights, leads to some fascinating insights.  

The most plain as day signal is what diverse talent seeks in an employer. 38% of Black students regard evidence of a commitment to DE&I as a critical decision maker in selecting an employer, compared to just 11% with white respondents. Even more so, there is keen eye on a company’s ethical standards, and what you stand for as an organisation; from black and Asian students especially.  

When asking about barriers to entry into the workplace, 49% Black students feel that their ethnicity will go against them in selection, as well as their economic heritage. Asian students by comparison, are most concerned that they will lack the necessary experience to win their opportunities.  

One of the newest elements of the Universum UK research enriches a little, our understanding of those who come from an implied lower socio-economic status. In the subject of barriers to entry, 25% of those with an implied lower socio-economic status felt their background would affect their entry into the workplace, compared with 8% amongst those with a more traditionally privileged upbringing. There is also evidence that having a less privileged network is driving some of this uncertainty.   

Steve Ward comments, “We have made a significant effort to better understand under-represented groups at Universum in the UK over the past couple of years, and using our framework of employer brand strategies are, with the help of my colleague & DE&I Specialist Isa Wurie; evolving our practices to ensure that all voices are heard and no-one is left behind. These research elements emphasise the challenges of a traditionally privileged focus and weighting on gathering employer brand ‘voice’. The concerns raised here, valid our commitment to that work and we applaud our customers who are joining us on this journey.”  

Is Remote Working concerning Students?  

Whilst on the whole, students seem to welcome the concept of remote working, with over 70% saying they would be interested in a remote role; the reality is a little different. We learned this year, that Gen Z is possibly the most stressed group in the workplace. The underlying elements that affect that, are detachment from culture, lack of human interaction, lower touch onboarding into their role, and the isolation of being away from colleagues.  

So when we see elements that relate to this, ‘lack of network and connections’ was cited as a career worry for 53% of all students. Also, when questions were asked about the potential concerns over remote work, more than 50% were concerned about missing out on social connections, and 49% were concerned about bias towards people who are more visible.   

“There is no right or wrong answer for what constitutes a correct remote-working plan, but we do need to understand is the difference it creates to the way in which our people interactive with each other, and how that affects young talent, new to the workspace” Steve Ward adds. “Our research shows a growing divide in trust between the employer and the employee and the long-distance work relationships are not following the ‘absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder’ ideology. We have to think about our employee experience, engagement and onboarding activities and how they blend effectively with a remote policy.” 

Do you wish to better understand your brand image, audience and competitors?

Every year Universum surveys over 1 million students and professionals worldwide to identify the brand image status of the most attractive employers. Our Analytics solutions give you the insights you need to win the war for talent.
Learn more
Universum logo
Follow us:

Talent Insights and Employer Branding Expertise
© 2024 Universum Communications Sweden AB, company registration no. 5565875993, 103 86 Stockholm. All Rights Reserved.