Pessimistic, realistic and ready to work hard: welcome to the class of 2014

GradIreland’s new Trendence Graduate Barometer finds the class of 2014 to be pessimistic about work opportunities

Tue, May 20, 2014, 02:00

The graduates of 2014 face a slightly friendlier economic climate than their recent counterparts. While things are tentatively looking up, realism is the name of the game. GradIreland’s Trendence Graduate Barometer of 2014 finds current graduates to be measured in expectations and still quite pessimistic about work opportunities.

The outward flow of young people seems to be accepted as part of the deal with graduates willing to relocate wherever the work is. Graduates may not be prepared for the practicalities of salary negotiation, and a disarming idealism shines through in responses about what is important to them in their careers.

This year’s Trendence barometer surveyed almost 8,000 graduates from areas such as business, science, engineering and technology. Students in the top 20 per cent of their class, who have taken part in extra-curricular activities and with experience abroad and in the Irish workplace, are classified as “high potential candidates”.

The stark effect of the continuing emigration brain drain comes into sharp focus with 55 per cent of the high potential business graduates saying they will leave the country for work. About 65 per cent of graduates would be willing to relocate within Europe, while 58 per cent are willing to go anywhere in the world for the right job. Fewer than 10 per cent would not consider relocating.

Graduates agree on the ongoing difficulties in the jobs market with about 60 per cent expecting it to be tough to get a job in 2014. Indeed, 60 per cent of graduates also admit to being worried about their future careers. Just 35 per cent have a definite career plan with a 10-year goal.

The message about lifelong learning and career agility has been received and understood with 90 per cent believing they must be flexible and willing to take on different roles in their working lives.

More than half use social networking in job searches and employer research, although applying to employers through career networking sites such as Linkedin was less popular. Under a quarter of business graduates and just 30 per cent of science, technology and engineering graduates, had done so.

Despite the relative gloom about prospects, most graduates expect to achieve at least the same standard of living as their parents and more than two-thirds agreed that fulfilment was more important than money in their working lives. That statistic is a good example of the idealism that infuses the survey.

Asked what was important in an employer, good career prospects came out on top. Believe it or not, prestige and a high starting salary are at the bottom of the wish-list, trumped by things such as training opportunities, a good work/life balance and opportunities for personal development. The leadership style of an employer was rated as important as was being appreciated at work, particularly for female graduates.

Starting salaries
Most expect to exceed a 40-hour week with high-potential graduates expecting to work longer hours, averaging out at about 46 hours per week. These expect a slightly higher starting salary than their peers, on average €30,000 (other graduates expect €28,000-€29,000 for a 43-hour week).

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