Graduate employers pull out of Milkround

Alex Glasner 30 October 2008

A number of employers have decided not to be part of the national careers ‘Milkround’ this year, following recent economic difficulties.

Several employers have opted out of the event, for which companies travel to several universities advertising graduate opportunities. The recent economic climate has led to some investment banks scaling back their recruitment, whilst others have completely stopped employing new graduates.

Mr Chersterman, the head of the Cambridge University Careers Service, told The Cambridge Student (TCS), that, “we have lost half a dozen major employers who have stopped recruiting completely – Lehmans, Bear Sterns etc.”

Most are said still to be accepting applicants, “albeit in fewer numbers”. Mr Chesterman was confident, though, that this would not affect Cambridge students too greatly because, “fortunately they still have Cambridge on their list of target universities.”

Banks such as JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital, have already come to Cambridge this term trying to reassure students that they are still employing. There is some fear amongst banks that when the economy recovers they will not have the human resources to be able to compete.

Mr Chesterman told TCS that there appears to be less interest in Investment Banking this year. “The thirst for banking has been quenched, three hundred fewer people attended the banking fair compared to last year. Hopefully this slight dip has mirrored demand.”

Yet banking is not the only sector to be affected. “Property is much quieter too,” Chesterman said, adding that only two thirds of the employers in the sector that came last year attended the equivalent event this year.

There had been reports that accountancy firms are pulling out as well, but this claim was refuted by Mr Chesterman, who told TCS that the firms were employing as many as the previous cycle.

This has been confirmed by international financial services firm Deloitte. Sarah de Cataret, graduate recruitment manager at Deloitte said: “This year our vacancies are filling faster than in the past as the number of roles available to graduates at other firms across the UK has been reduced. Graduates therefore need to apply as early as possible and not leave their job hunt until the end of their final year.”

TCS has also learnt that, during economic problems in 2001, Cambridge graduate employment went down by 1.2%, whilst at the same time the national rate went up by the same percentage. Mr Chesterman has countered though, that this was due to the Careers Service’s search for new employers and opportunities.

He wished to reassure students that, “The Careers Service is working hard to counter the risks of this slowdown: running new events, we’ve actively sought more opportunities, our vacancies online listing has a good crop of opportunities.”

Moreover, he explained that many small banking firms, who are looking to employ just one or two graduates, are actually “pleased as they will get more applicants.” Citing the dip in interest in the sector, he said that “banking is no more or less competitive this year, yet students should keep a ‘plan B’ warm.”

The Careers Service advises students looking to enter investment banking to think about alternative options. “Look for a different sector of employment, such as chartered accountancy and then slide into investment banking.”

Students do not seem to be listening to this advice, however, with more than 90% of the record breaking 2,100 student visits to the careers service last week, inquiring about City jobs.

Very few other sectors seem to be pulling out of the Milkround and TCS was told that they are recruiting as usual. This has, however, led to a huge increase in applications to accountancy firms. One of the ‘Big 4′ accountancy firms has reputedly seen an increase in applications of 70%.

Every year only a small proportion of graduands – around 120- go into Investment Banking. Chesterman said many believed that this was the only career path available due to the competition and the huge amount spent on advertising by the big banks. “There is a danger that students think that the only job available is banking.”

Alex Glasner