Only one in eight university students would pick working for an SME as their top career choice, despite the role UK SMEs play in national employment.
Just one in eight (12%) university students currently studying in the UK placed working for a small or medium-sized business (SME) as their top career choice, according to new research from Santander UK.
This is despite the fact that UK SMEs are responsible for more than 59 per cent of private sector employment and that a quarter of graduates are employed by an SME.
The top choices from current students were to continue their education (26%); work for a large corporation (16%); and a career in the public sector (16%).
According to the research, which sought to gain a better understanding of student perceptions and graduate attitudes towards the UK job market, around one in four students (23%) were unaware of the opportunities of working for an SME.
However, it appears that students are more likely to consider working for a small business as they get nearer to graduation, with 14 per cent of students in their final year saying they considered this an option, compared to 7 per cent in their first year.
Additionally, nearly half (47%) of students believe that SMEs do not offer sufficient job security and 44 per cent state they perceive working for an SME would not give them a sufficient career path or opportunities for progression.
Luis Juste, director of Santander Universities UK, said: “Our specialist team works very closely with 66 universities throughout the UK. Together we are passionate about helping students and graduates gain employment in these difficult times. It’s great to see that working for an SME is the number one career choice for one in eight of those polled, but we believe this could, and should, be significantly higher.
“The realisation that so many students don’t think about their job hunt until after they’ve graduated, combined with the number who are under the misapprehension of the career opportunities in a small business, underlines that Santander and our university partners, need to do even more to educate students about the benefits of working in a UK SME. We’re excited to be announcing such a big extension to our internships programme and are confident the scheme will continue to grow and help secure the much needed jobs for our upcoming talent.”
Santander is expanding its internships programme, offering 1,500 students internships at SMEs to help promote the opportunities of working in this part of the economy