Top technology brands once again dominate the list of favourite employers chosen by business and engineering/IT students in the world’s 12 largest economies.

More than 267 000 millennials in Universum’s Talent Survey have ranked the companies they find most desirable for employment, and the results delivered some valuable insights.

In order to make the list of The World’s Most Attractive Employer, companies must rank in the top 90 percent of employers within at least six regional markets. Results are weighted by GDP, so that a high ranking position in the U.S. has a greater influence than a high ranking position in India, for example.

While the survey is based on the world’s 12 largest economies, the results still have major impact on South Africa and South African top talent and businesses need to be aware of these trends.

Jenalise Skuse, Universum country manager South Africa, explains: “The World’s Most Attractive Employer Rankings are an important indicator of which companies are winning the global war for talent.

“With the increased mobility of talent, and with the increased importance of an international career for young talent in South Africa, it is more important than ever for local companies to understand the global talent landscape. Following the global trend, young talent in South Africa are finding innovative tech firms increasingly attractive.”

Universum South Africa research manager Winani Ndlovu details how South African talent compares to these international trends: “While South African talent has similarities with their global peers, our insights reveal that they also have their unique expectations from employers.

“Similar to the global talent the South African business/commerce talent is looking for development evidenced in their selection of professional training and development and leaders who will support their development as part of their top three important attributes.

“Within the engineering/technology talent innovation and a creative and dynamic work environment is similarly part of the top three most important attributes in an employer.

“While both business and engineering/technology global talent have indicated that high future earnings is part of their top three most attractive attributes in an employer, the South African talent has indicated that professional training and development is more attractive in an employer over high future earnings.”

Business and engineering/IT students are actively in pursuit of obtaining a well-balanced lifestyle that encompasses work with personal time. A well-balanced lifestyle is the number one career ambition in both fields of study for all countries apart from India, where having an international career is considered more important and Russia, where job security is key.

Overall, engineering/IT talent tend to have more in common with their peers in other markets than the business students in their own countries.

On the engineering/IT side, Google retains its top position followed by Microsoft, Apple, BMW Group and IBM, which took over GE’s spot at number five.

On the Business rankings, Apple – which moved up five spots from seventh the second place – is challenging Google for the top position, followed by EY and Goldman Sachs. PwC fell three spots to fifth place.

Banks are struggling to compete with technology firms for business talent and, as a result, certain banks have fallen in the rankings. However, due to the interest of Engineering/IT talent in joining professional and financial services firms, some banks have made strong advances in the Engineering/IT rankings.

There has also been mixed fortunes for consumer goods firms, with strong “lifestyle” brands doing better than others, such as Nike debuting on the ranking at 16, ahead of the Adidas group at 19. There is a stable attractiveness for the automotive industry, with the exception of Volkswagen for both business & engineering/IT talent.

There have been significant declines in attractiveness for hardware-focused IT firms and electronics manufacturers. The energy industry is noticeably less attractive following collapse in oil and gas prices, but renewable energy firms have seen a spike in popularity amongst both sets of talent.

The top 10 companies in the Business category are Google, Apple, EY, Goldman Sachs, PwC, Deloitte, Microsoft, KPMG, L’Oreal and JP Morgan.

The top 10 in Engineering/IT are Google, Microsoft, Apple, BMW, IBM, GE, Intel, Siemens, Samsung and Sony.