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Lots of jobs out there for graduates - but employers say they don't have the communication skills

The new GradIreland survey on graduate salaries and recruitment trends has found that lack of communication skills is a real concern for employers, writes Ruairi Kavanagh.

GRADUATES CAN EXPECT to find significantly more opportunities in today’s employment market, as recruiters are expecting an ever tougher battle when it comes to landing the right graduate talent.

The year’s GradIreland Graduate Salary & Recruitment Trends survey reveals:

  • Employers are hiring almost 25% more graduates than they were last year
  • Only 1% are not expecting to recruit graduates
  • 65% say they are recruiting more graduates because of an actual growth in business
  • Lack of communication skills is a real concern for employers, with over half saying it’s the number one skill lacking in graduates
  • More than half (55%) of employers are expecting challenges when it comes to recruiting graduates

The survey found that the average number of graduates hired rose from 33 to 42 and the average starting salary has also risen slightly, from €28,332 to €28,461 with salaries in general rising across the board. Just over 18% of graduates will earn less than €24,000 in their first year, down from 22.8% last year, with 9.2% earning less than €22,000, down from 15% last year.

The challenges

Our research also revealed that 35% of employers feel that graduate recruits have unrealistic expectations in terms of pay and conditions, and more than half are expecting challenges when it comes to recruiting graduates. 87% said that competition from direct competitors was the main challenge, while a large number also said that they found it hard to find applicants with the right skills. Other main challenges included uncompetitive starting salaries and not enough applicants with the right third level qualifications.

Reflecting the economic recovery, 65.4% of employers said they were increasing their recruitment in response to an actual growth in business while more than a quarter were focusing strategically on graduates when it came to recruitment. For those who were recruiting fewer graduates, 35% said that their retention rates had improved, meaning less need for new recruits, while 10% remained cautious about the economy and were reluctant to increase recruitment.

The story is therefore, one of increased competition for employers, and opportunity for graduates, but employers are concerned about hard and soft skills, such as lack of IT knowledge and communication and writing skills for example. Employers said that IT literacy is a must, and fluency in a foreign language really is a big advantage when seeking to get on a graduate programme, especially with a multinational organisation. Some other quotes from employers when asked what they valued in graduates were:

We want people with leadership potential, graduates with drive and determination.
We look for students with the ability to collaborate and innovate and who are able to work under pressure.
It’s important that graduates can interact with people, not just technology.
We’re looking for a global mindset and leadership capability.

Ruairi Kavanagh is editor of

Read: The average graduate starting salary is now €28,000 – but it’s significantly lower in Dublin

Students: how to make the most out of an internship (and avoid the unscrupulous employers)

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