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

Small businesses in the UK hold more attraction to students and graduates than larger companies, new research reveals.

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 per cent who were looking to start a new job or career, 37 per cent hope to work for an SME, compared with 29 per cent 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 per cent of those choosing to work in medium-sized companies. The main reason (25 per cent) for this group’s choice was due to the opportunities to progress and develop, while this was given as a reason by only 15 per cent 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.

See also: How to ease the transition from education to the workplace – 5 tips to help make the change as smooth as possible

Jayne Rowley, deputy chief executive at Prospects, says, ‘Many graduates welcome jobs 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, SMEs can look to attract talent in other ways such as through sustainable business practices and flexible working.

Further reading on students and graduates

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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