School leavers and graduates hoping to enter the labour market in Britain this year will struggle to find employment as firms slash entry-level jobs by nearly a quarter owing to the coronavirus crisis, a report warns.
All types of entry-level roles have been reduced this year by 23%, said the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), with the “volatile” jobs market forecast to shrink further as 15% of employers expect to scale back recruitment further in 2021.
The latest findings appear to reflect concerns that the pandemic is likely to hit the job prospects of young people the hardest.
Employers are seeking 32% fewer entrants on apprentice or school leaver programmes than originally planned for this year, according to the ISE report, while graduate jobs have been cut by 12%. Internships and placements will also slump, by 40%, says the report, which is supported by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (Agcas).
Even existing job offers are not secure, with one in seven employers admitting they have already withdrawn them and a further 14% considering reneging in the coming weeks. Almost a third of employers (31%) are delaying start dates and more than half are planning to induct new starters remotely.
Stephen Isherwood, the chief executive of the ISE, said: “There is no denying that this will be a challenging year for young people entering the labour market.
“Some employers are backing graduates over non-graduates and others have found it too difficult to start new apprenticeships, which means that school leavers will be among the hardest hit by the crisis.
“This doesn’t mean that students should assume the jobs market is dead. Many employers are recruiting and history tells us that we still see unfilled vacancies in a downturn. Switching off is the worst thing students can do. It will only hinder their prospects further when the upturn comes and the jobs market recovers.”
Health and pharmaceuticals was found to be the only sector set to increase entry-level recruitment this year while the built environment, finance, professional services, energy and engineering were making the biggest cuts.
Some of the UK’s biggest employers have already cancelled or delayed recruitment schemes and internships. Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC and the accountants PwC and BDO are among the large companies that have been forced to make changes to their recruitment plans because of the crisis.
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