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Last year saw significant improvements to the graduate jobs market, with university leavers experiencing the kindest market since 2007. Providing us with a positive outlook for the forthcoming year, 2015 had suggested that employment intentions were set to rise even further throughout the next 12 months.
Yet with an uncertain referendum fast approaching, how would a vote to leave the European Union impact on both graduates and employers?
David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has announced a referendum to be held on Thursday, 23 June to decide whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union.
Should voters back ‘Brexit’, Cameron has said he will trigger Article 50 – the formal mechanism for leaving the EU. This would immediately begin negotiations to end the UK’s membership.
Supporting the Prime Minister’s campaign to ‘Stay’, bosses from a number of the country’s greatest firms believe that leaving the EU could result in a weakened economy, causing disruption to our job market and deterring investment in the UK. As witnessed in previous recessions, the graduate jobs market is particularly vulnerable to problems within the financial market.
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, believes that we are better in than out. ‘I can’t see a single benefit for the UK graduate jobs market for coming out of Europe’, Isherwood announced at the 2016 Development Conference in London.
It may affect global organisations, and where and how they recruit’, he added, explaining that the biggest potential threat from leaving the EU would be a lack of international mobility for graduates.
The current free movement of graduates across the European Union creates a mass of job opportunities for those that are willing to travel. Many believe that this free movement, when regulated, is a great benefit to our graduates while they move into and through employment.
Equally, it is this free movement that makes it relatively easy for UK businesses to employ workers from other EU countries. Could a vote to leave be slamming the door in the face of some of our most talented graduates?
While many argue that a Brexit could affect business confidence, creating fewer graduate vacancies, EU sceptics are arguing that over 90% of the UK economy in 2013 was from trade not with the EU. Some believe that by leaving the EU but remaining in the European Economic Area, we will instead experience a jobs boom, which could create up to a million jobs.
No one knows. While some polls suggest ‘Stay’ currently has a small lead, others place ‘Leave’ ahead. And after last year’s surprise election, it could go either way.
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