Early Careers Survey 2023

June, 2023

Prospects at Jisc have today (1 June) released the findings of the 2023 Early Careers Survey. The report reveals how priorities have changed for students and graduates

To find out more about their study and work experiences over the last 12 months 4,483 users of Prospects.ac.uk were surveyed between 7 February and 9 March 2023. Respondents to the Prospects Luminate survey include graduates (both employed and self-employed), university students, those currently not in education, employment or training, sixth form and college students and school pupils.

While the previous years (2022) respondents stated looking after their mental health as their biggest challenge, 2023 findings indicate that concerns about the cost-of-living crisis and resulting money worries have risen to the top of the agenda for students and graduates.

The survey found that more than half (52%) of participants said that money was their biggest concern over the last year, followed by balancing commitments (51%), taking care of their mental health (50%) and keeping motivated (48%). These four anxieties took precedence over other concerns such as getting a job (27%) and finding work experience (24%). Read about different ways to manage student stress.

University students and those in employment were more likely than other groups to say that money was their biggest challenge.

'The cost-of-living crisis means that money is now the number one concern for students and graduates,' says Chris Rea, a careers expert for Prospects at Jisc. 'It is driving important decisions that will affect future career paths. It's vital young people seek advice from careers experts before making hasty decisions that they may regret further down the line.

'As a result of the cost-of-living crisis we may see more shortages in lower paid sectors and fewer entrances to university, particular postgraduate courses. The labour market is relentlessly tight and employers will need to be competitive with their salaries to win and retain the best talent.'

The report also discovered:

  • Student engagement with careers advice and guidance has dropped over the past year. Compared with last year/s data, there's a clear decline in engagement with all forms of careers advice.
  • Finding work experience is less of a challenge than it was during the pandemic. Just 24% of this year's Early Careers Survey respondents indicated that finding work experience was one of their biggest challenges, compared with 56% a year ago.
  • Half of survey respondents have changed their career plans in the last 12 months, with the cost-of-living crisis a key driving factor behind this decision.
  • Because of money worries fewer graduates are quitting their jobs this year - a third of those in employment plan to quit their jobs this year, compared with 40% last year.
  • Staying motivated was a key pain point for those looking for work and more than a third feel unprepared for employment.
  • Respondents were asked about what's important to them when looking for a job, internship/placement, or apprenticeship/training scheme. The top two themes were training and development and career progression. Those looking for a job were the only group to place more importance on work/life balance, suggesting that it's a higher priority for those thinking about their long-term career.
  • A fifth of graduates, particularly those on remote or hybrid contracts, are working a side hustle to supplement their income.

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