Young people are concerned about their prospects of finding employment – and they are looking to employers that they perceive as stable.

A Universum survey finds that 63% of students are concerned about their prospects of finding a job after graduation, which is slightly down from 66% last year. Females (65%) and African black students (68%) are the most concerned.

Government and parastatals are still perceived as offering secure and stable employment.

Employer branding company Universum compiled the results of their largest research sample to date in order to determine the Universum Most Attractive Employer Awards for 2014. From July to October 2014, Universum conducted an in-depth survey of 44,640 students at 25 tertiary institutions and 21 374 professionals across South Africa, a substantial increase from the survey numbers of 2013.

Every year the annual rankings and associated trend reports are important indicators of the growth of certain sectors, young people’s expectations for the future, and the changing face of South Africa’s professional landscape.
Universum has been conducting this type of research globally for over 20 years and in South Africa for nine years with the purpose to improve the communications between students, career services and employers.

Speaking on the attractiveness of government as an employer, Winani Ndlovu, research manager Africa, explains: “This is why government and parastatals are so popular with students who value security and stability. In this year’s rankings, within the student rankings, government and parastatals feature within the Top 3 rankings across every sector.”

Within the rankings, Transnet has becomes more attractive across the board – one of the only SOE’s that has large expansion plans in immediate future, which is clearly indicated in the significant increase in rankings.

This year’s research also shows for the first time that young South African’s are starting to follow global trends amongst job-seekers in the developed world; namely becoming more picky and with a stronger focus on the people and culture of organisations.

Jenali Skuse, employer branding consultant, says: “In the past, South Africans have prioritised financial and stability concerns, and whilst this is still the case, there is an increase in the importance of “softer” issues when top talent is looking for employment”. Students this past year picked on average less ideal employers than in the past.

Additionally, for students in South Africa, leadership is extremely important – this is consistent with other emerging markets as opposed to the more developed markets. However in South Africa, as a career goal, leadership is becoming less important.

Unfortunately, the expectations and reality for female job seekers remains that they expect to earn less than males and then do in fact earn less when they become professionals. For business students the gender gap is ZAR 41 178.8 and for engineering students the gender gap is R18 569.90.

Based on the 2014/15 research, retail as an industry is becoming less attractive to students across the board. The only exception to this trend is Woolworths which continues to become more attractive to talent.

Students ranked their most attractive employers as follows:

Business: KPMP, SA Reserve Bank, Transnet, Deloitte, Eskom, PwC, SA Revenue Service, Coca-Cola SA, Investec, SA Breweries.

Engineering: Eskom, Transnet, Sasol, Google, Microsoft, Murray & Roberts, BHP Billiton, BMW Group, Anglo American, CSIR.

Sciences: Daff, CSIR, Department of Science and Technology, Sasol, SA Breweries, Eskom, National Health Laboratory Service, Department of Health, Google, Unilever.

Humanities: DHET, Department of Health, SABC, Google, DIRCO, Media24, Department of Home Affairs, DRDLR, e-tv, Transnet.

Law: Legal Aid, Webber Wentzel, NPA, Adams & Adams, Norton Rose Fulbright, Bowman Gilfillan, DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Werksmans, SA Revenue Service, Google.

Health sciences: Department of Health, Medi-Clinic, Netcare, National Health Laboratory Service, Discovery, Aspen Pharmacare, Pfizer Laboratories, City of Cape Town, DHET, Nestle SA.
Professionals cited their most attractive employers as:

Business: Google, SA Breweries, Investec, Coca-Cola SA, Woolworths, Allan Gray, Sasol, Discovery, BMW, Deloitte.

Engineering: Google, Sasol, Eskom, CSIR, BHP Billiton, Transnet, Aurecon, SA Breweries, Microsoft, Anglo American.

Sciences: CSIR, DST, BHP Billiton, Sasol, SA Breweries, Google, Eskom, Anglo American, Pfizer Laboratories, Exxaro.