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Have students lost faith in employers in the wake of the downturn?

New research published last week shows the extent of the damage done to students’ perceptions of graduate recruiters in the wake of the recession. A survey of more than 27,000 students, the trendence UK Graduate Barometer Survey 2014, found that 40% felt the economic crisis had caused them to have less trust in employers.

The survey asked students from more than 100 UK universities about their career goals, their job hunting behaviour and the employers they would most like to work for. Trust plays an important role in students’ decisions about where to apply, so this widespread lack of confidence could affect employers’ ability to recruit the graduates they need. Individual recruiters are likely to seek to tackle this issue directly in their approach to marketing and activities on campus.

Chris Phillips, information and research director of GTI Media, which belongs to the same parent company as trendence, commented, ‘When thousands of undergraduates tell trendence that they are losing trust in employers, it’s the employers’ job to rebuild that trust. Employers cannot thrive if admiration is replaced by indifference – or, to be a little less oblique, if the number of decent applications goes down. Trust is not magically restored by doing nothing.’

When asked whether the downturn had caused them to have less trust in employers, only 19% of students actively disagreed, showing just how much work there is to be done to restore confidence and repair perceptions. The trust deficit is even more marked with students from state schools, with 44% declaring a loss of trust compared to 37% from private schools. This could potentially affect employers’ ability to recruit candidates from a broad range of diverse backgrounds.

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