Over a third of students and graduates hope to work for a start-up

Majority of grads wishing to work in a small business cite the social and professional opportunities of working in a small team as the main factor

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Students and recent graduates currently seeking work would rather be employed in a small or medium-sized business than a larger firm, according to research from Prospects.

The survey of 9,000 students and graduates found that, of the 63% who were looking to start a job, 37% hoped to work for a start-up, compared to 29% who would prefer a larger employer.

Respondents were also asked why they were interested in working for a small business (up to 50 staff) or a medium business (50-250 staff).

Of those who expressed a desire to work for a small business, 63% cited the improved professional and social opportunities granted by working in a smaller team, whilst this was important to only 21% of people wishing to work in a medium-sized firm.

In comparison, 25% of students and grads looking for a job with a medium company said the main reason for doing so was due to opportunities for progression and development, with just 15% of those aiming to work at a smaller company agreeing.

The three most important factors for job seekers when choosing an employer were opportunities to train or gain qualifications, generous pay, and that a company’s ethical values matched their own. Location and the offer of flexible working were also high on the list.

Jayne Rowley, deputy chief executive at Prospects, said:

“Many graduates welcome jobs in smaller companies, preferring the opportunities and working environment that they offer. In turn they offer small and medium-sized businesses a fantastic opportunity to bring new skills and ideas into their business, but competition can be fierce to attract the top talent that they need.

“While they may not always be able to compete on pay, businesses can look to attract talent in other ways such as through sustainable business practices and flexible working.”

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