The most attractive employers index Ireland 2023, which was conducted among 8,000-plus students in Ireland across business and economics, IT, engineering, natural sciences, humanities, law and medicine, reveals that top technology multinationals are waning slightly in popularity, as job losses and general uncertainty across the technology sector begin to have a knock-on impact on student preferences.

Pharmaceutical, biotechnology and manufacturing companies have done well among students of natural sciences in 2023, with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific remaining in first, second and third place respectively.

Meanwhile, Glanbia has moved up one spot to fourth place and the Health Service Executive (HSE) has moved down one spot to number five.

Large organisations v SMEs

Technology multinationals still dominate the top 10 preferences of IT students, (Google, Apple and Microsoft take first, second and third place respectively).

Moreover, when it comes to the size of organisations where IT students want to work, large companies are down by 12% on last year, while small- to medium-sized organisations are up by the same percentage.

Commenting on the results, Universum UK and Ireland business director Steve Ward said: “Every year, the most attractive employers index offers valuable insights into changing student preferences when it comes to their employer of choice, with these choices often reflecting wider macro-economic trends.

"Last year, with their reputation for innovation and also job security, global technology multinationals dominated the rankings.”

Job losses

However, in 2023, headlines around job losses at major tech companies, many of whom have their European headquarters here in Ireland, have begun to affect student preferences.

Steve said: “Tech multinationals have also lost some ground among engineering students this year, while manufacturing, construction and pharmaceutical companies have all moved up the ranks.

"We are seeing some interesting movement towards SMEs, which suggests that smaller, local companies are playing a role in helping to pick up surplus digital talent.”

In terms of the greatest gains overall in 2023, Tesco has risen in popularity among IT and natural sciences students, rising 20 and 30 places respectively. Meanwhile, Adobe is up 27 places among engineering students and 11 places among business/economics students.

Insights on advertising

The survey also points to the topics that recruiters should focus on in their advertising to students, with most respondents to the survey citing the importance of training and development opportunities, advancement opportunities, remuneration, benefits, diversity and inclusion.

“Just last month, we saw unemployment in Ireland fall to an all-time record low of 3.8%, eclipsing the low achieved in the early 2000s,” Steve Ward continued.

“This means that competition among recruiters has never been as high, which puts an onus on organisations to ensure their employer branding is attractive to Gen Z talent.”

Top priorities for companies

According to a separate survey that was carried out on the world’s most attractive employers, 78% of the world’s most attractive companies see employer branding as one of the top priorities among their organisation’s talent management priorities.

“Graduates are the essential building blocks of tomorrow’s workforce, so it’s vital any talent strategy takes their views into account.

"With our index revealing the areas Gen Z would like most employers to focus on, there’s never been a better time for companies to ensure their branding stands out so they can attract and retain sought-after graduate talent in a highly competitive hiring landscape,” explains Steve.

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