Universum: Growing Gap Between What Young Talent Wants and What Employers Can Offer

Published: 04 Nov 2022

The 2022 World's Most Attractive Employers (WMAE) rankings highlight a growing misalignment between students' job expectations and what employers can offer in a cooling economy. "Competitive salary" and "high future earnings" are now two of the top-three priorities for business, engineering, and IT university students — and are among the fastest-growing priorities.

"Over the last 18 months, employers offered generous contracts and working conditions to attract young talent because demand exceeded supply in many regions," says Mats Röjdmark, Chief Executive Officer, Universum. "Now that hiring is slowing, we expect more realistic employment deals in 2023."

Universum, the global leader in employer branding, surveyed over 185,067 students in business, engineering, and IT from the 9 largest economies between September 2021 and May 2022. The survey asks students which employer characteristics are most influential as they consider future employment, and which employer brands they most admire. Other key findings:

- Google drops to #2 among business students. It was edged out by Apple, which rose two places this year to #1. (Google still ranks #1 for engineering and IT students.)

- Quality of life is still a growing priority. From a list of 40 attributes, "work-life balance" rose 6 places to rank as #8 most important in 2022, and "flexible working conditions" rose 7 places to #10.

- Evidence of "quiet quitting?" Asked to rank their top priorities in a future employer, young people were significantly less likely to choose "challenging work" in 2022 — the largest one-year drop of any priority in 2022.

Universum Global Account Director Richard Mosley says the 2022 study offers critical data points for employers' 2023 budgets: "Companies are still hungry for young talent in tech, business, and engineering, but budget tightening will likely force difficult decisions. Now more than ever, organizations must take a data-driven approach to employer branding, messaging and channel strategy."

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