Finance industry least likely align with graduates’ social responsibility goals
CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, conducted a survey on the career outlook of more than 15,000 current university students as well as graduates aged 18 to 25, across 15 markets.
The results found that globally, 58 percent of respondents still feel confident about their future career prospects following the pandemic. Traditionally stable sectors, such as finance, remain attractive for graduates navigating these uncertain times with respondents across all 15 markets putting finance as one of the top five most valuable majors for finding a career. Medicine/science was also seen as stable and attractive, followed by healthcare and then education.
Margaret Franklin, CFA President and CEO of CFA Institute commented: “It is incumbent on companies to adapt to the new realities, such as hybrid workplaces, in order to attract and retain the young talent we need to help lead us out of the pandemic.”
“Worryingly, however, graduates currently don’t see the finance industry as making a positive social impact. This issue is only going to increase in importance, and industry leaders need to make sure we are on the front foot in educating students about the positive impact an investment career can have for people and our planet.”
Graduates are reassessing their career paths
Many graduates believe their future career will be as good or better than their parents’ generation, despite COVID-19. The survey results showed that those studying accounting and finance were particularly confident, with 80% believing their prospects are as good.
Despite this confidence however, 46% of the respondents reported they are reassessing their career paths considering the pandemic with top concerns now including low pay in their preferred sector (26%), lack of jobs in their preferred sector (25%) and working in a sector that doesn’t fulfil or interest them (26%).
Further education is key in a job market in flux
Developing work-related skills during and after their degrees was another concern for students. Those surveyed shared personal insecurities about this with 25% saying they feel underqualified for the job they want, and 22% saying they don’t feel prepared for the working world, post-graduation.
Students and graduates are seeing the benefit of further education. Nearly 87% of respondents feel that upskilling and post-graduate qualifications are important in the current job market, and 57% believe postgraduate qualifications/professional certification will give them an edge when looking for a job.
This is causing a significant uptake in further studies, with nearly half of graduates planning to prolong their time in education.
Peter Watkins, who leads the University Affiliation Program at CFA Institute in Europe, Middle East and Africa commented: “Graduates’ strong confidence in higher education is good news for universities but we should be clear about their motives. Graduates are clearly focusing on work-readiness, professional skills, and boosting their job prospects; higher education and credentialling institutions need to ensure their offerings meet this demand.”
Making a positive impact
We know Gen Zs are looking for a sense of belonging and to work in an industry that aligns with their values. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) respondents said it’s an important part of their career choice. Of concern is that only 8% of respondents consider a career in investment management as one in which they could make a positive environmental and societal impact. This shows again that the finance industry needs to more to educate students around the positive impact they could have to attract talent.
Watkins added: “Graduates may be unaware of the remarkable global trend towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and the career opportunities a specialism in sustainability and ESG could offer them in the investment industry.”