Covid-19 has had an immense impact on the UK economy, and a lot of this damage has fallen on SME’s. SME’s are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, containing under 250 staff.

As they generate around 50% of the UK’s business revenue, it is no surprise that SME’s are feeling the effects of this economic damage. McKinsey & Company reported that while in 2019, 80% of SMEs reported growing revenue, post-pandemic 80% of those surveyed are experiencing declining revenues. One of the largest concerns for businesses, especially the more vulnerable SME’s, is that they may not be able to continue supporting their staff.

Because of this economic difficulty, as an employer or owner of an SME, you might feel that it is not the right time to consider taking students and graduates into your workforce. Understandably you may feel there are more barriers and risks to hiring graduates for an SME than for a large business who will be able to weather this storm more comfortably. However, we want to highlight the many benefits that hiring a graduate workforce during this uncertain time can bring.

In this new economy, many SMEs find they need short-term support in a variety of skill areas that the student and the graduate market can provide. Graduates bring soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork, which can be easily adapted to fit challenging scenarios within your business. Furthermore, you could benefit from the innovation and fresh talent graduate employees can bring to respond to the changing economy.

Currently, many SMEs find they do not have the resources that large businesses do to support the return to an office environment safely. They, therefore, are maintaining a remote working strategy and continue to utilise technology for business. Remote working is desirable to students and graduates as they are more likely to favour flexible working. Their technological abilities developed throughout university and their capable use of digital communications means they are much more comfortable working at home. This means that by hiring a graduate or student to work in your SME, you are taking on an employee more equipped to deal with the current working climate, and you could trust they have the experience working in non-conventional environments.

Another benefit for an SME taking on a graduate or student employee is that they are cost-effective. In a time of economic decline, SME’s cannot afford to miss an opportunity to consider the most financially viable options when taking on a new employee. The entry-level salary you will pay a graduate is significantly lower than if you were to hire a more experienced worker. By choosing to employ a graduate, you are investing in someone who may work with you for a large part of their career, and in turn, generate much of your future business. Graduates are a great way to ensure the future potential of your business, especially as the Institute of Student Employers has outlined that graduates contribute around £1 billion to the UK economy annually.

The advantages of hiring students and graduates reach beyond your SME and into the broader economy. By taking on graduates, and helping to minimise graduate unemployment (the Institute for Student Employers are already reporting graduate recruitment as down by 12% compared to last year), you are helping to keep money in the local economy and support its renewal as we emerge out of the pandemic.

To further support the employment of young people in the current climate, the government have proposed several schemes to aid employers in providing work. Visit our page on funding to find out more about the opportunities potentially available to you.

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