Demand for minimum 2:1 degrees declines

07 Dec 2022

Under half of employers in the UK are setting a 2:1 degree as a minimum qualification for grads for the first time, according to new research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE). The findings revealed 48% of employers polled require a 2:1 degree as a minimum entry for a grad role, a decline from 57% last year. This also represents the first time this figure has fallen below the 50% mark since the ISE began collecting records. A total of 20% of firms request a minimum 2:2 degree, whilst just 13% established a UCAS point minimum. 

Attitude over achievement? 

More companies now are placing greater emphasis on attitude as opposed to accomplishments when it comes to selecting graduates for jobs. CEO of grad recruitment agency Inspiring Interns, Ben Rosen, told HR Magazine: “We have found over the past few years that companies are now hiring with a focus on the graduate’s attitude and work experience background, rather than their degree classification. Candidates with a 2:2 degree and great internship experience can compete on a level playing field with other graduates who have attained a 2:1 or a first-class degree.” He added: “Candidates who think about creating a punchy impact by describing what they can bring to the role massively increase their chances of landing their first graduate job.” This was reiterated by research carried out by jobs site Indeed back in August. The study showed 75% of employers were less interested in uni degrees compared to 10 years ago, and 87% said they would opt for a positive attitude over qualifications when it came to entry-level positions. 

No minimum requirements

In addition, more and more businesses are scrapping minimum requirements entirely. 26% of companies had no minimum requirements for grads this year, a rise from 21% last year. ISE chief executive Stephen Isherwood added: “Most graduate employers use a wide range of different approaches to select the right candidate. However, many have questioned the use of UCAS tariffs and degree results as selection criteria, and this has been in decline over a number of years now.” He continued: “This highlights a broader trend in the labour market, whereby employers are placing more trust in sophisticated selection tools. They want to broaden their potential talent pool and the universities, colleges and schools they hire from by expecting less educational requirements.”