New research published this week by global employer branding experts Universum, part of leading hiring platform, has revealed that high future earnings and job security are the top two motivators for today’s third-level graduates across Ireland when considering their future career.

Indicating a growing concern amongst students around the impact of inflation and the associated rise in the cost of living, high earnings, and job security rank in first and second place. This is followed by a friendly work environment (3rd), good work-life balance (4th) and a clear path for advancement (5th).

The research, conducted as part of The Most Attractive Employers Index Ireland 2022, was conducted amongst 8,199 third-level students across Business/Economics, Engineering, IT, Natural Science, Humanities, Law, and Health/Medicine in Ireland, and provides a snapshot of the key attributes that today’s students are looking for in their future employer.

The lasting impact of the pandemic on ways of working is also evident in the ranking for flexible working conditions, which has risen by two places since 2021, now positioned at number eight.

Difference between the genders

The research also reveals key differences in workplace priorities between male and female students, with women more motivated by the social responsibility of an organisation and men more focused on advancement and innovation. For example, female students attach greater importance to employer ethics (5th) and a sense of purpose (10th) than their male counterparts, who list these at number 21 and 16 respectively.

Male students, meanwhile, attach greater importance to innovation (7th), as well as base salary (2nd). For female students, innovation comes in at number 15, while competitive base salary ranks much further down the scale at number 17.

Base salary expectations

Meanwhile, men and women have different expectations when it comes to what this base salary will be. While male students expect to earn €40,827 in their first full-time job after graduation, female students say they expect to earn €37,097, a pay gap of 9%.

Although a gap between men and women is evident within all the study fields included in the survey, it is highest amongst Natural Science students, with females in this field of study expecting to earn on average €4,344 less on an annual basis than their male counterparts.

Year-on-year growth in graduate jobs

According to, the number of roles advertised for graduates grew by 94% in the second quarter of this year.

Quarter-on-quarter, the number of graduate roles grew by 13%, with jobs up 30% on pre-Covid (2019) levels. Companies posting the most jobs for graduates include food, engineering, financial services, and professional services firms.

Top career preferences among Irish students


Commenting on the results of the research, Steve Ward, UK and Ireland Business Director, Universum said:

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.

“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, and are looking for a job to provide them with the stability to ensure they can provide for themselves and their family into the future.

“Young people today are graduating into a very different working environment than many would have expected to when starting their degrees. After witnessing its evolution over the past two years, this year’s group of students are even more keen than last year’s graduation cohort to explore the benefits of flexible working. As the number of graduate roles increases, making this more of an employees’ market, employers will need to illustrate to potential recruits how they are competing with others in this regard.

“Finally, with the results showing different expectations amongst both men and women when it comes to competitive base salary, even within the same field of study, it’s clear that employers have a key role to play to ensure commitment and communication of parity of remuneration amongst the sexes for similar roles, notwithstanding employee negotiation skills at interview stage.

“Although men and women have different priorities when it comes to their preferred employer attributes, something which will help employers who are striving to improve the gender balance in their workforce, remuneration is a key indicator of how much a person is valued within an organisation in comparison to their peers. Unless and until women are actively reminded of their financial worth within the workplace, the gender pay gap is set to continue.”

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By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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