Brexit makes graduates rethink their career plans

Brexit makes graduates rethink their career plans

A survey of 648 graduates at UK universities conducted by KPMG reveals that almost two thirds (62%) feel less confident about their career prospects because of Brexit.


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The survey also reveals that three quarters of graduates (75%) believe Brexit means there will be fewer jobs available for their generation, half (48%) are less likely to want to work in the UK, and only four in 10 (41%) said Brexit had not affected their career plans.

Explaining the findings, Karen Briggs, Head of Brexit at KPMG said:

“Graduates are particularly exposed to the uncertainty Brexit brings. Our survey shows that just at the time when there might not be as many EU citizens around, fewer British graduates now want to work in the UK. This points to a shrinking traditional talent pool and a potential battle for the most employable people. I’d urge every business to rethink their workforce strategy by embracing programmes such as apprenticeships so they can recruit from the widest possible group. First movers will have the advantage.

“Done right, Brexit has the potential to stimulate a higher wage, higher tech economy. However we must remain cognisant that Brexit isn’t just affecting business investment decisions, it’s also changing people’s career plans.”

This report follows a separate survey commissioned by KPMG UK which shows how the EU workers most likely to leave the UK are the independent, in-demand, educated and young. It remains to be seen whether the commitments made in the recent joint agreement regarding citizens’ rights will change attitudes.

Explaining how graduates and employers can respond to Brexit, James Stewart, Vice Chair at KPMG UK said:

“Brexit is about to accelerate a number of changes in the UK jobs market. Those going to university should think very hard about the courses that will serve them best in a post-Brexit economy.

“At the same time retention is about to shoot up the business agenda in some industries. This means organisations need to go beyond traditional approaches to keeping their best staff, such as salary, bonus or benefits and take a good look at their culture, purpose, working environment and learning opportunities. Firms should also take a more positive approach to recruiting staff at different ages and sourcing staff from less conventional backgrounds.”

To address any potential skills gap KPMG encourages employers to:

  • Be more proactive and imaginative in their efforts to recruit workers. 
  • Re-examine investment in training and overhaul pay and rewards. 
  • Take a creative approach to issues of culture, purpose, training workplace environment.
  • Understand the potential for artificial intelligence and automation as part of a flexible future workforce strategy.

Data tables:

How has Brexit affected your confidence in graduate career prospects post‐university?

  • I am much more confident 2%
  • I am slightly more confident 4%
  • It has made no difference 32%
  • I am slightly less confident 42%
  • I am much less confident 20%

What impact do you think Brexit will have on the job market for your generation compared to previous generations?

  • There are likely to be many more jobs for my generation 2%
  • There are likely to be a slightly more jobs for my generation 10%
  • It won’t make any difference 13%
  • There are likely to be slightly fewer jobs for my generation 47%
  • There are likely to be many fewer jobs for my generation 28%

How has Brexit changed your perception of wanting to work in the UK?

  • I am a lot more likely to want to work in the UK 5%
  • I am somewhat more likely to want work in the UK 5%
  • It has made no difference 42%
  • I am somewhat less likely to want to work in the UK 34%
  • I am a lot less likely to want to work in the UK 14%

How has Brexit affected your career plans? (multiple responses allowed)

  • I’m now considering returning to education instead of securing a job 7%
  • I’m now considering taking a gap year instead of securing a job 8%
  • I’m now looking at a wider array of industries for employment 17%
  • I’m now looking for roles in different locations in the UK 7%
  • I'm now looking for roles outside the UK 20%
  • Brexit has not affected my career plans 41%



Notes to editor:

For further information please contact:

Paul Middleton, KPMG Corporate Communications

T : (0) 20 7694 2180

M : 0738 725 7543

E :

KPMG Press Office:

T : +44 (0) 207 694 8773

About the survey:

This survey was commissioned by KPMG. The questions were produced by KPMG’s Student Recruitment team along with KPMG’s Brexit team and High Fliers Research. The survey was open between August and December 2017. 585 UK nationals and 63 non UK nationals who had graduated in the summer of 2017 or are set to graduate between 2018 and 2020 responded. All participants came from the 30 universities where the UK Graduate Careers Survey is conducted.

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 14,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.2 billion in the year ended 30 September 2017. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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