SAGEA Employer Benchmarking 2019 report cover

The SAGEA Employer Benchmark and Candidate Insights 2019

The leading graduate employers are flooded with applications, whilst the most successful students start job hunting early.

Results from an independent survey of leading employers in South Africa shows that these organisations are set to recruit record numbers of graduates in 2019 & 2020. The SAGEA Employer Benchmarking Survey 2019 is based on responses from 94 of the leading graduate employers in the country. It provides encouraging news for students looking for their first job upon graduation, even though competition to secure the best positions remains extremely high.

The SAGEA Candidate Insights Survey 2019 – an online questionnaire with 2,168 new or future employees – showed that candidates made an average of five or six applications, and most had secured multiple job offers. While employers received thousands of applications, many said there was a shortage of candidates with the right skills and qualifications.

Candidates who started their job hunting prior to university, or in their first year on campus, were most likely to secure a graduate position with their number one employer of choice. However students who waited until their final year of university before starting their job search were the least likely to have received a job offer from one of their top three employers of choice.

Employers continue to look for engaging ways to interact with students to create a useful dialogue and help them to understand all of the opportunities on offer. Recruiters were very active on campus – hosting events and attending careers fairs – and were also present on social networking sites and hosting their own websites.

Highlights from The SAGEA Employer Benchmarking Survey 2019 include:

  • Two-fifths of employers said their primary purpose in recruiting graduates was to hire them onto a leadership development programme.
  • The accounting and professional services firms were the largest recruiters, with nearly two-fifths of all vacancies in 2019. Other major recruiters in 2019 were banking and finance organisations, consulting firms and retailers.
  • By job function, the largest proportion of vacancies were found in audit (TIPP), which accounted for two-fifths of the total vacancies available in 2019.
  • The median graduate starting salary for 2019 was R210,000.
  • The highest starting salaries in 2019 were for roles in investment banking, investment analysis, actuaries, geologists, retail banking, mining engineering and legal positions. All of these offered median starting salaries of at least R350,000. / over… The SAGEA Employer Benchmark and Candidate Insights 2019 Main Report The SAGEA Candidate Insights Survey 2019 Produced by High Fliers Research Main Report The SAGEA Employer Benchmarking Survey 2019 Produced by High Fliers Research The SAGEA Surveys 2019
  • The number of applications received by employers was 2,100, however more than a quarter of employers each received more than 5,000 applicants. The median number of applications per vacancy was 92, which is noticeably higher than previous years.
  • A fifth of those candidates who submitted applications were successful in reaching the next stage of the selection process. An average of ten per cent of candidates reneged on offers which they had accepted.
  • Graduate vacancies are set to increase by 5.3% in 2020, compared to the numbers recruited in 2019.
  • Vacancy levels have increased in 6 of the 9 industries that are tracked in the survey.

Highlights from The SAGEA Candidate Insights Survey 2019 include:

  • The most popular destinations were auditing, legal and technology.
  • The four universities with the highest attendance levels accounted for more than half of all survey participants.
  • More than two-fifths of candidates confirmed they waited until their final year to start researching graduate employers.
  • These candidates made an average of five or six applications.
  • Training & development, the organisation’s reputation and the long-term career prospects were both the primary factors when deciding who to apply to, and also when deciding which job offer to accept.
  • Employers’ own websites, brochures or campus events, careers fairs, careers services, people in industry, and family members were the most widely used sources of information.
  • Two-fifths expect to stay with their first employer for more than five years.
  • Remuneration, promotion, international opportunities, training & development.
  • 88% expressed a desire to work overseas at some point in the future, with Europe and America being the most preferred destinations.

Executive Director for SAGEA, Cathy Sims commented:

“Many employers are showing the intention to have graduates play a key role in their organisations, however competition for the best candidates remains very high and finding suitable students for technical roles continues to be particularly challenging.

The very best graduates are likely to have multiple job offers from which to choose, so employers have to work very hard to help ensure candidates feel connected to both the role and the organisation. Employers who are performing well are engaging in meaningful, authentic conversations with job hunters via multiple channels – including print, digital and face-to-face promotions.

It is interesting to note that many of the candidates who said they have secured a position with their most preferred employer started their job search early – so they had the opportunity to develop a clear understanding of what was on offer – while those who did not join their most preferred organisation were very likely to have left their job hunting until their final year.

On the whole, employers remain optimistic about graduate recruitment. They plan to increase the number of graduate vacancies on offer which shows a sustained, and real commitment from organisations to attract and retain the very best candidates – many of whom are being developed to become future leaders within the business.”