By Dr Anand Kulkarni
In a world of rapid technological change, creation and destruction of industries, along with the globalisation of capital, goods and talent, it is interesting to see what motivates young university graduates in their careers. After all, they are the leaders of tomorrow.
Global employer brand leader Universum recently surveyed 294,663 business and engineering/IT graduates in 12 leading economies: Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the UK and the USA. The results are telling.
Sectors and companies of preference
Business graduates prefer to work in management, consulting and banking, while engineering and IT ones prefer software, computer services, multimedia development, digital entertainment, industrial engineering, manufacturing, aerospace and defence. These industries are closely related to areas of study and reflect high growth and dynamism, which graduates aspire to be a part of. These are highly valued and advanced services sectors which are expected to drive competitive advantage in the future.
The most attractive individual employers in the world for business graduates are Google, Goldman Sachs and Apple respectively, while for engineering/IT, again, Google and Apple trump other employers to grab the first and third places respectively, with Microsoft in the second position. These companies are attractive to graduates from a range of fields, in part because of their distinctive global brand and presence.
Factors that appeal
However, overall, larger employers are not necessarily the flavour of the season for graduates. Medium-sized firms (100-499 employees) are the most favoured, followed by large firms (500-1000 employees) and macro enterprises (greater than 1000 employers). It seems that medium-sized companies combine enriching careers, challenging work experiences, flexibility and friendly environments that matter, in addition to possessing sufficient resources. Interestingly, very small sized firms (less than 10 employees) and small firms (10-99) do not find as much favour with graduates. One can surmise that high failure rates among smaller enterprises and limited resources of these companies could be constraining factors.
Working for an international company is most preferred, followed by privately owned national organisations, for both business and engineering/IT graduates. Working for government agencies is well down the pecking order. Arguably, in the decades ahead, shortages of skilled labour could emerge in the government sector, significantly affecting public policy making and administration of essential services. The negative views of working for the government could also possibly be associated with perceptions of red tape, bureaucracy and even corruption, along with potentially lower remuneration as compared to the private sector.
For business and engineering/IT graduates around the world, work-life balance is the overall top career goal, followed by security and stability in a job. In third place for business graduates is “to be a leader or manager” while for Engineering/IT it is “to be dedicated to a cause”.
However, India somewhat bucks the global trend. Having an international career is the overall top goal for Indian graduates in both disciplines, while in Engineering and IT, working in a creative and innovative capacity features prominently. This trend is consistent with aspirational young Indians increasingly having the ability, financial capability and ambition to both study and work abroad. In part, the strong Indian diaspora around the world could also be a crucial factor in shaping perceptions. High future earnings also are essential to Indian business graduates, more so than in other countries.
The role of social media
Social media continues to be the dominant communication channel for connecting with employers, while other more traditional methods (employer websites, career fairs, job boards etc.) tend to lag behind. This trend represents the importance of, and familiarity with, social media among younger people, and the fact that enterprises must be able to reach out to graduates through this medium to remain competitive and be able to recruit the best and brightest.
Interestingly and in conclusion, around the world, contrary to myths about the ruthless ambitions of modern-day graduates, there is a high emphasis on work-life balance, having an impact and giving back to society, and a keen appreciation of gender diversity.
Featured Image Source: Unsplash
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