Employers want recruits to hold 2:1 honours degrees


MOST EMPLOYERS are now demanding that graduate recruits hold a 2:1 honours degree, according to a new survey.

The survey of 79 leading employers also highlights “serious shortfalls” in the communication and writing skills of Irish graduates.

The employers surveyed by gradireland – the graduate careers service – include virtually all of the major accounting and consulting companies, as well as the likes of Intel, Diageo, the Kerry Group and Facebook.

It finds that the average starting salary for new graduates is about €24,000 to €25,000. More than 16 per cent of companies surveyed said they had no plans to recruit graduates this year because of the economic downturn.

Broadly, employers felt there was little difference between the quality of Irish graduates and those recruited elsewhere. Only six of the 79 companies surveyed said the performance of Irish graduates lagged behind those from other countries.

With graduates struggling to gain employment, the majority of employers insist their graduate intake has a 2:1 or higher on graduation. Surprisingly, only 8 per cent of employers target particular universities or colleges in their recruitment process. Commenting on this, Mark Mitchell of gradireland said: “If you have the right qualifications and can demonstrate core competence, opportunities exist for graduates from all backgrounds and all regions with the majority of graduate employers.”

Despite the demand for exceptional academic results, over 56 per cent of employers cited a lack of communication skills among new recruits and 29 per cent highlight an inability to manage their own learning.

Weaknesses in foreign language skills and maths were also highlighted by employers.

When it comes to specific knowledge areas, employers report the most serious problem is in maths; one third of employers expressed concern about declining standards in this area.

Employers were much more positive about IT and general technology skills with few reporting concerns.

For graduates average starting salaries were highest in engineering and manufacturing at over €30,500. Starting salaries were lowest in accountancy and financial management at €21,600.

Gradireland is the official graduate careers information provider for all universities and institutes of technology in the Republic and Northern Ireland.