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Insights from tomorrow’s workforce – our latest research

16 April, 2019

We’ve recently launched our fourth annual graduate insight report, What do graduates want? Insights from tomorrow’s workforce. We surveyed  5,000+ students at UK universities to find out what they want from their future employers and how they feel about entering the world of work.

To celebrate the launch we hosted over 100 of our clients for a breakfast event where we heard insights from a panel of Bright Network members, all currently studying at UK universities. This was a unique chance for leading employers to hear directly from their future workforce.

Mind the gap

Key findings from this year’s report revealed a major gender disparity in salary expectations among graduates entering the world of work with women expecting £4,000 less in their first-year job role and £12,000 after five years in comparison to their male counterparts.

Although the number of female graduates who feel held back by their gender when applying to graduate roles has decreased to just 1%, the gender differences in salary expectations demonstrate an ingrained pay gap expectation among young people.

These findings are important in spotlighting the root of the problem of unequal pay between men and women further along in their careers, showing that inequality starts at graduate level before young people have even entered the workforce. Addressing this gap so that it is narrowed at this early stage is imperative if we want to see positive change in the future.

Boosting confidence

Our survey also uncovered a confidence gap between male and female graduates in terms of how prepared they feel to enter the world of work. Only 31% of female graduates feel prepared to enter the workplace compared with 48% of male graduates — this is a huge difference of 54%.

This confidence gap feeds in to why female graduates are expecting lower salaries than their male counterparts. It is imperative that we empower young women to realise their potential and equal ability to achieve, giving them the confidence to apply for the same high-paying roles as men. There is no reason for why men and women cannot grasp the same opportunities — we must do everything we can to boost the confidence of all graduates, equipping them with the skills they need to feel prepared for entering the workforce.

Getting the right balance

The report also shines a light on the growing importance of work-life balance to graduates, with 95% valuing lifestyle and progression over remuneration.

Illustrating a cultural shift from previous generations, today’s graduates prioritise flexibility, personal time and wellbeing with 82% expecting their future employer to offer flexible working.

This year’s research highlights a need for employers to respond to the marked changes in the mentality of the future workforce. Gone are the days when a big salary is the sole consideration when applying for jobs; companies that foster a positive workplace culture with attractive benefits catering to the changing needs of young people will fare well in attracting and retaining talent.

Our report is hugely valuable to both graduates and employers alike, giving graduates the opportunity to voice what is important to them which can mobilise change in companies looking to recruit from this pool of talent. Our insights can be of great use to businesses looking to recruit graduates as they can align their work structure and employee benefits with the values of the young workforce.