Young woman sitting at a desk with her head in her hands looking at a computer.
Image: © Anatoliy Karlyuk/

Grads want job security and good pay, but do they have the tech skills to get hired?

23 Sep 2022

Accenture research found that just 54pc of 18 to 34-year-olds are comfortable using tech to find a job, compared to 60pc of 35 to 44-year-olds.

Click here for more advice for the sci-tech class of 2022.

Even without researching it, you could probably surmise that Irish Gen Z and millennial graduates prioritise high pay and job security above all else in today’s jobs market. After all, they will probably tell you this if you ask them.

And who can blame them – especially with the uncertain economic climate? As it happens, global employer branding business – and sister company of – Universum did conduct research into the top priorities of graduates who may be entering the jobs market over the coming weeks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Universum’s research found that high pay and job security are in fact the top priorities of graduates entering today’s jobs market.

“With high earnings and job security the top two overall preferences, it’s clear that young people today are being impacted by the uncertainty that’s abounding in today’s economy, whether that’s inflation, the cost of living or house prices,” said Steve Ward, UK and Ireland business director at Universum.

“There is a whole new cohort of Gen Z and millennial students who will be looking to enter the workplace from this month. Employers that want to attract and retain this latest generation of talent need to ensure their recruitment and attraction strategies reflect what graduates are looking for in their employer,” Ward said.

The research was carried out as part of The Most Attractive Employers Index Ireland 2022. That study was conducted among 8,199 third-level students in areas such as economics, engineering, IT, natural science, humanities, law and medicine in Ireland.

It is intended to provide a snapshot of the key attributes that today’s students and graduates are looking for in their future employer.

Other highly ranked priorities included a friendly work environment (which came in third), a good work-life balance (fourth) and a clear path for advancement (fifth).

When it came to base salary expectations, men expected higher rates than women. Men expected to earn around €40,827 in their first full-time job after graduation, whereas women students said they expected to earn €37,097. The gap in pay expectation was most apparent in the natural sciences sector, with women expecting to earn about €4,344 less annually than men.

Pay packets was not the only area where men and women differed. Women placed a greater emphasis on things like employer ethics and a sense of purpose than their male counterparts. Men placed base salary expectations and innovation considerably higher than women did.

Universum’s Most Attractive Employers Index 2022 also identified Google, Microsoft, Apple and Intel as the most in-demand workplaces for Irish IT and engineering students.

All are multinational tech companies with big budgets. But are students prepared to find a job at these businesses when they’re first released into the hiring market?

‘The younger cohort of our society, while finding themselves confident when it comes to online and social media, lack some of the more important basic digital skills that are necessary for enhancing their employability’

We may assume that millennials and Gen Z, as digital natives, are familiar with all aspects of technology. However, research from professional services firm Accenture suggests that this assumption may be inaccurate.

Accenture’s Digital Divide Index 2022 found that just over half (54pc) of 18 to 34-year-olds are completely comfortable with using websites to search for jobs and create and edit CVs.

By comparison, 60pc of 35 to 44-year-olds said they are comfortable using tech to help them during the job hunting process.

The research that informs the index was carried out over three stages spanning August to December of last year. Overall, Accenture noted that despite the increase in internet usage during the pandemic, people aged 55 and over were in danger of being left behind by a widening digital skills gap.

However, the company was also concerned about the generational skills gap between jobseekers in their thirties and forties and younger jobseekers who may need to upskill to find their dream role.

Accenture developed a CV builder chatbot called GApp. This AI-powered chatbot can help users create digital CVs on their phone, and provides a platform for jobseekers to watch technology tutorials and learn more about topics such as AI and blockchain.

Users can access digital training through Accenture’s community partners or apply for jobs at Accenture using GApp. The platform has been specifically targeting Gen Z, with a dedicated marketing campaign featuring social media influencers.

“While millennials and Gen Zs are driving the transition to a digital society, their relationship with digital is not without its challenges, which became clear from our research,” said Jen Speirs, digital divide sponsor for Accenture in Ireland.

“The younger cohort of our society, while finding themselves confident when it comes to online and social media, lack some of the more important basic digital skills that are necessary for enhancing their employability, such as creating documents, including CVs.

“We saw the need to help bridge this gap and launched our chatbot to support those who do want to upskill by giving them the tools to succeed in a digital workplace.”

Speirs’ comments are a reminder not to take tech skills among any age group for granted. We must also remember that technology includes everything from Snapchat Stories to Excel spreadsheets and emails. The latter two may be slightly more difficult to grasp for a generation accustomed to a diet of TikTok and YouTube videos.

Technology isn’t a catch-all category, but through educational initiatives, young graduates can learn the tech skills they will need to get them their dream job. After all, time and youth are on their side.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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