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Graduate Employers Lower Entry Requirements to Address Diversity

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Graduate employers setting no minimum entry grades have more than doubled in five years as they search for more diverse recruits, reports the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

In 2014, 7% of ISE members set no minimum entry requirements for their graduate recruits, but this year that has increased to 22%.

In the same period, the proportion of employers requiring a 2:1 degree has dropped from 76% to 57%. The requirement for minimum A level grades (or UCAS points) has also declined, from 40% of employers to 16%.

ISE Inside Student Recruitment 2019 also showed that the majority of companies (86%) don’t look for a qualification in a particular subject and just 2% use postgraduate degrees as a minimum requirement.

Social mobility, the desire to create more diverse workforces and advances in recruiting technology are driving the trend. This year, firms were giving a higher priority to all diversity issues namely gender, ethnicity, social mobility, disability. LGBTQ+ and neurodiversity.

The majority of employers had also changed attraction and recruitment processes with 38% changing the universities they visit and 36% undertaking blind recruitment by removing the applicant’s name or/and university.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of ISE said:

“Over the last five years, we’ve seen the beginnings of a major shift in employers using grades to determine the best people for their organisations. Academic criteria are a crude measure of potential. Companies are becoming more sophisticated in how they use data and they have more tools to predict success.

“It’s important not to overstate this trend though. With more than half of employers still using 2:1s as an entry requirement, qualifications remain important. But there are concerns that relying on grades alone raises diversity issues as well as a sense that they may be too broad a brush to successfully identify the people that employers are actually looking for.”