More than a third of students and graduates are looking to start work in SMEs

May, 2017

Students and graduates welcome the professional and social opportunities offered by working in small teams, reports a new survey by Prospects

More than 9,000 students and graduates were asked about their work intentions over the next 12 months. Of the 63% who were looking to start a new job or career, 37% hoped to work for an SME, compared with 29% who were considering a large employer. 

Students and graduates were asked about their reasons for choosing to look for a job in an SME. Responses differed depending on whether they were interested in working for a small business (up to 50 staff) or a medium-sized business (50-249 staff).

Sixty three per cent of students and graduates were looking for jobs in small businesses because of the opportunity to work in smaller teams with the expectation that they would have good professional and social interaction. 

This was important to only 21% of those choosing to work in medium-sized companies. The main reason (25%) for this group's choice was due to the opportunities to progress and develop, while this was given as a reason by only 15% of those looking for work in a small business.

The three most common factors cited by respondents as the most important when choosing an employer were opportunities to train or gain qualifications, generous pay and that a company's ethical values matched their own. Other popular influences were location and flexible working.

Jayne Rowley, Deputy Chief Executive at Prospects, said: 'Many graduates welcome work in smaller companies, preferring the opportunities and working environment that they offer. In turn they offer SMEs a fantastic opportunity to bring new skills and ideas into their business, but competition can be fierce to attract the top talent that they need. While they may not always be able to compete on pay, they can look to attract talent in other ways such as through sustainable business practices and flexible working.'

Prospects surveyed 9,293 students and graduates through an online survey in February 2017. Thematic analysis was performed on comments from 1,336 students and graduates on their reasons for choosing to look for a job in a small or medium-sized company.

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