A report from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has found the number of graduate employers setting no minimum entry grades has more than doubled in five years. The reason underlying this is the search for more diverse recruits. In 2014, seven per cent of ISE members set no minimum entry requirements for their graduate recruits, but this year that has increased to 22 per cent.
In the same period, the proportion of employers requiring a 2:1 degree has dropped from 76 per cent to 57 per cent. The requirement for minimum A level grades (or UCAS points) has also declined, from 40 per cent of employers to 16 per cent.
ISE Inside Student Recruitment 2019 also showed that the majority of companies (86 per cent) don’t look for a qualification in a particular subject and just two per cent use postgraduate degrees as a minimum requirement.
Social mobility, the desire to create more diverse workforces and advances in recruiting technology are driving the trend. This year, firms were giving a higher priority to all diversity issues namely gender, ethnicity, social mobility, disability. LGBTQ+ and neurodiversity. The majority of employers had also changed attraction and recruitment processes with 38 per cent changing the universities they visit and 36 per cent undertaking blind recruitment by removing the applicant’s name or/and university.
“Over the last five years, we’ve seen the beginnings of a major shift in employers using grades to determine the best people for their organisations,” said Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE. “Academic criteria are a crude measure of potential. Companies are becoming more sophisticated in how they use data and they have more tools to predict success.
“It’s important not to overstate this trend though,” he added. “With more than half of employers still using 2:1s as an entry requirement, qualifications remain important. But there are concerns that relying on grades alone raises diversity issues as well as a sense that they may be too broad a brush to successfully identify the people that employers are actually looking for.”