Companies raise the bar for graduate employmentJuly 13, 2012
According to a recent report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), leading companies are preparing to screen out graduates who fail to gain first-class degrees. So at a time where up to 150 university leavers compete for each job, it could become even harder to secure employment.
In the legal sector there is a massive vacuum between graduation and qualification. Competition is fierce for many training contracts so employers can afford to be choosy and pick the best candidates. Presently, the entry benchmark for many firms’ training contracts is a 2:1 – but is this likely to rise? And if it does, how will this affect the sector?
There has been much concern over university grade inflation in recent years. Figures show that, across all disciplines, the number of students leaving university with a first has more than doubled over the last decade. This, combined with growing competition for well-paid professional jobs during the economic downturn, has prompted some organisations to reevaluate entry criteria for highly sought after positions.
In addition, AGR has found that one in eight employers are monitoring the ‘socio-economic background’ of new recruits, with another fifth outlining plans to impose similar measures in the future. Is this practice likely to increase diversity? Or does this make the issue more complex?
The AGR’s latest report may prompt students to question their route into the profession and the options which are available to them after graduation. Just last week, Lord Sumption Supreme Court Justice advised would-be lawyers to do a non-law degree followed by the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), rather than a qualifying law degree such as a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). He believes that lawyers should take a non-law degree before they embark on the study of law as todays law graduates had “much less in the way of general culture” than their predecessors. He suggested that aspiring lawyers would be better taking degrees in history or mathematics before studying law.
Breaking into the legal sector is notoriously tough – and grade inflation teamed with a shortage of training vacancies has led to employers having to rethink selection criteria for highly prized positions. Is it fair to only accept applicants with first class degrees? Or should wider considerations such as background and study-path be taken into account? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.