College dropouts establish tech companies, goes the familiar story; and then, according to a recent survey by GradAustralia, college graduates flock to join them. In partnership with The Australian, GradAustralia recently asked more than 4,500 students at 39 higher education institutions across the country to vote for the organisations that have the most appeal as graduate employers. The question was deliberately open-ended, allowing students to take into account whichever factors are most important to them.
A consensus nevertheless emerged: students exhibit an overwhelming preference for tech companies, with the top three spots taken (respectively) by Google, the internet search giant; Apple, the trailblazing technology company; and Deloitte, the international professional services firm that, whilst it is not a specialist tech company, Deloitte advises other organisations on challenges such as technological integration and the use of enterprise applications.
Rounding out the top ten are a suite of other high-profile organisations, including two more major players from the tech world: in fourth place, PwC, then the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Department of Education and Training, KPMG, Microsoft, EY, and the Commonwealth Bank.
‘It’s important to remember that, in 2019, the average university graduate, aged 21 to 25, has completed their higher education in a world defined by technology,’ says Geoff Adams, co-founder of GradAustralia. ‘Given the omnipresence of the internet and the cultural prestige of organisations like Google and Apple, it’s perhaps no surprise that students feel so strongly drawn to joining them.’
Interestingly, the results of GradAustralia’s Top 100 Graduate Employers survey suggest a high degree of consistency over time. Of the ten highest ranking organisations in 2019, all but one were present in the top ten of last year’s list. The top three organisations—Google, Apple, and Deloitte—remain unchanged.
What is it about these employers that make them so appealing to graduates? The Top 100 Survey found that 79 per cent of graduates consider it ‘important’ that they join an employer with a diverse workforce; 59 per cent insist that they wouldn’t accept high pay to work for a company with a bad image; and 74 per cent say that, when it comes to their graduate career, personal fulfilment is more important than earning lots of money.
In light of this, it’s not surprising that the top three employers each have well-publicised diversity and inclusivity programs; that they invest conspicuously in employee development; and, of course, that each of the top three employers promise, in addition to fulfilment and diversity, competitive pay packages that few other companies can rival.
‘If you compare the results of our graduate survey to, say, the Forbes World’s Best Employers List, there’s considerable overlap,’ says Geoff Adams. ‘The two top employers are identical, with Microsoft also appearing in both lists. I think this shows that even fresh graduates are looking for the same things as seasoned professionals—prestige, perks, high pay, and room for growth.’
Here’s another interesting trend: the top two companies on the list (Alphabet/Google and Apple) are also the two largest public corporations in the world by market capitalisation (according to the Financial Times Global 500 rankings). Microsoft, eight on the GradAustralia’s Top 100 list, is the third largest public corporation in the world.
The other ranking companies boast distinctions of their own: Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY are the four biggest professional services companies in the world, often referred to as ‘the Big Four’. They appear on the list almost in exact order of market value (KPMG and EY switch places).
‘Graduates clearly feel the pull of large companies with a global presence,’ says Geoff Adams. ‘And why not? They offer graduates an opportunity to build their careers at home and abroad with almost no limits on how far they can go. For graduates, it’s definitely perceived that bigger companies really can be better.
The definitive list of the Top 100 Graduate Employers can be found on the GradAustralia website as well as in the Top 100 Graduate Employers Guide. The Top 100 Graduate Employers Guide includes 400 pages of comprehensive employer profiles, sector information, insider tips on how to get hired as well as real-life stories from graduates on the job. The Top 100 Guide is in high demand every year, with 50,000 copies of the latest edition distributed at university and industry career fairs throughout Australia.
Pictured above are the team from Engineers Australia.