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The survey was designed to garner graduate employer activities, insights and perspectives in light of the significant challenges they have faced since the beginning of the pandemic and the changes in recruitment practices influenced by remote working. The online survey, which was disseminated earlier this year, explores a range of topics related to graduate recruitment including skills needs and shortages, recruitment practices, challenges and collaboration. A total of 99 employers responded to the survey.

Key findings from the survey shed light on several themes including the importance of work experience with many respondents stating that this is a predominant criterion in the selection of their graduate recruits. It was also revealed that communication, digital soft skills and technical Information Technology (IT) related skills are in high demand amongst graduate employers.

Many also noted that these skills are in short supply and pointed towards the importance of work experience, targeted curriculum interventions and collaboration with the Higher Education (HE) sector in addressing skills gaps.

As society emerges from the pandemic, many respondents stated that they planned to use hybrid approaches to graduate recruitment that incorporates a mixture of online and face-to-face activities. Notably those respondents that engaged in the yearlong placement model stated that they typically recruit placement students into longer term paid roles following the culmination of their placement.

Finally, respondents revealed a strong appetite towards engagement with the Higher Education sector to support their talent management solutions and other aspects of business development, with many pointing towards a desire for face-to-face engagement at their business premises and in university campus spaces.

On launching the report Angela Scanlon, Director of Employability and Careers at Ulster commented:

‘Recent experiences of the pandemic have challenged us all to make changes in different areas of our lives. As we build back stronger, we at Ulster University recognise that our well-established employer partnerships are critical for success, as we work together to support students and graduates in securing placement, real world learning and graduate employment. The findings from the survey have given us opportunity to listen as we work to ensure applied professional practice, graduate skills and talent with ambition remains at the forefront of what we do.’

Read the full Graduate Employer Survey report

The Employability and Careers Department at Ulster is committed to working with employers through a range of mechanisms including work-based learning opportunities such as placements, graduate internships and real work projects and through employer membership of sector focused Employer Advisory Boards.

To explore these opportunities and how the Department can support you with your talent management and business development needs please contact the team at