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Are tomorrow’s graduates interested in your business?

HRM takes a look at what research says are the most popular career options for graduates, and which industries they are avoiding.

Are tomorrow’s graduates interested in your business? Will they be attracted to work for your organisation? And when they do apply, will they have the skills you are looking for? These are massive questions for HR now and in the years ahead.

So what are young people thinking as they stand on the threshold of their working lives?

Well, here’s one insight. In a new pilot program conducted only in NSW, CareerHQ measured the career and industry interests of more than 1,000 Year 11 and 12 students from 17 diverse high schools around the state.

The most popular career option for these students was lawyer or solicitor, closely followed by photographer and primary school teacher. Overall, allied health, sport and education roles dominated the top 50 most popular jobs. STEM careers on the other hand only received four of the top 50.

Despite federal government initiatives to encourage more women into STEM careers, mathematician was one of the least popular career options, with only one student selecting this as one of their top three career options (equal to abattoir worker). A big growth area for jobs – IT – is not appealing to graduates at all. Only 10 students in the sample selected either IT software developer or web developer as one of their top three career interests.

Barista or Barrister?

And what conclusions are we to draw from the fact that more students expressed an interest in becoming a barista than the total group interested in becoming a medical physicist, radiographer and robotics/mechatronics engineer? It seems Australia is destined to remain a service-sector dominated economy.

Statistics from the 2016 Census reveal that the number of personal and community service workers, such as baristas, beauticians and fitness instructors, is driving the gig economy, outpacing manufacturing as the nation’s biggest employer. These workers grew by 19 per cent in five years to a record 1.16 million, more than the number of Australian labourers.

The reasons for this are multiple but include the fact that undergraduates unable to find work in their chosen field have moved into the service sector, mostly temporarily. Some have found that it suits the more flexible lifestyle they are seeking, and some are far more suspicious of the corporate sector than previous generations.

But the sectors where there is demand for graduates are feeling pain. A Robert Half survey found that only three per cent of Australian technology leaders say the education system is meeting the demands of the IT employment market. While 82 per cent say it’s more difficult than ever to find qualified IT professionals today compared to five years ago. Despite younger generations characterised as adept at learning and applying new technology, IT as a career seems to be a big turn-off.

Recruitment isn’t just an HR thing anymore

So what can IT and other industries struggling to recruit graduates do to make themselves more appealing? Certainly, the way top businesses are approaching recruitment is changing. Take Australia’s most successful IT company, Atlassian. In the last six months they have been aligning their marketing and recruiting messages, collaborating in order to apply the same customer-centric focus to employees and potential employees. They use recruitment channels such as universities and sites such as LinkedIn to populate a new talent tracking system that manages a list of prospects in a similar way to a sales CRM solution.

“It’s all about creating a community of talent and beginning conversations with them, so when they are ready to make a move, we can more easily convert them into Atlassian employees,” says chief people officer, Helen Russell, who is based in San Francisco.

At Schneider Electric, Chris Quinn, the company’s VP Marketing Comms and Digital Customer Experience, Pacific, says they are embarking on a similar path to more closely align their marketing and HR teams. They see one of the potential benefits as helping to not only attract high calibre recruits but drive employee engagement through shared aims and values.

Attracting the next generation of employees may very well require the expertise of marketers to hone in on this target market, and use their customer focussed skills to draw them in to the organisation.

Discover creative and effective recruitment strategies with the AHRI short course Attracting and retaining talent.

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