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UK employers to increase number of new hires of students and graduates in 2023



Young student at a job interview
Entering the race: 63% of businesses report that it's a 'high priority' to hire candidates who are more sector-ready | Photo: Alex Green

Turning a corner after a challenging few years for university-leavers, new research from early career community portal Handshake and the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) reveals that 47% of companies that employ students and graduates will be looking to make more hires in the next year, while an additional 50% will maintain their current level.

The Graduate Employer Priorities 2023 report presents an optimistic picture, with the main motivation given by employers for increasing the number of grads they intend to hire being company growth (37%), or grad hires representing good value (20%). Meanwhile, one in nine (11%) suggest pent-up demand post-pandemic is a factor.

When making hiring decisions in the coming year, the single top priority given by graduate employers is equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), with 97% of organisations indicating this will be a key factor. Meanwhile, 90% of employers say that connecting with good candidates more generally is a concern.

“Lots of UK employers are clearly looking to kick on after a rollercoaster couple of years and bring more staff on board. There are still challenges, however, and the top priorities for the year ahead show that finding the right candidates remains tough. Hiring managers will be looking at how technology can help them, and we believe platforms like Handshake can play a key role in connecting the right candidate with the right role, regardless of their background or connections.” – says Chris Anthony, Head of Employer Sales, UK at Handshake.

Recent graduates, however, will have had less time and experience in the workplace than previous cohorts due to the pandemic, with 85% of employers saying as much. This has potential repercussions in terms of equality of opportunity too, and 68% of employers believe the impact of Covid-19 on graduate candidate skills is more likely to impact candidates from marginalised backgrounds.

As such, many businesses are encouraging graduate and student candidates to bridge that gap in experience and job-specific skills by reflecting more closely on their applications. The single top tip given by graduate employers was to research both the role and mission of the organisation (23%), while candidates were also urged to make more of the soft skills they do have (14%).

It’s heartening to see that organisations are looking to boost the amount of students and graduates they’re bringing on board. Hiring early career talent is a win-win, as graduates offer businesses fresh ideas, new ways of doing things and represent great value – and it’ll be good news for recent uni-leavers that more roles at a broad range of top companies are likely to open up in the next 12 months, after some undoubtedly tricky times in recent years.” – adds Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at Institute of Student Employer.

The expected increase in numbers of new graduates being hired next year will add to positive numbers: according to official data from the UK government, employment rates for working-age graduates and postgraduates increased 0.4 percentage points in 2021, when compared to the previous year, while it fell for working-age non-graduates, widening the gap between these groups.

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Disneyland Paris renames theme park in $2 billion revamp



Facade os Disney Paris with Disney's characters standing in front of it
The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

Disneyland Paris has unveiled a new name for Walt Disney Studios Park as part of the park’s US$2 billion transformation.

Walt Disney Studios Park will become Disney Adventure World when the new immersive area, World of Frozen, opens.

The transformation of Walt Disney Studios Park will see it almost double in size.

“We’re changing the story of Walt Disney Studios Park, evolving from ‘how it’s done’ soundstages to celebratory theatres and adventures that come to life in immersive worlds,” said Tom Fitzgerald, chief storytelling executive at Walt Disney Imagineering and senior creative executive for Disneyland Paris.

“These fully realised adventure worlds will become the focus of the park’s new identity and appear as realms that guests discover as they navigate deeper within the park and are invited to participate in adventures inspired by our most beloved stories.”

As part of the rebrand, the park’s entrance is also being reimagined, with the current design replaced with ‘crafted décor that pays homage to historic movie theaters in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole.’

“Embracing a transformation that involves the overhaul of more than 90 percent of Walt Disney Studios Park since its debut in 2002, we’re unveiling a fresh creative vision that has completely redefined our second gate,” said Natacha Rafalski, president of Disneyland Paris.

Previous investments in the property include World of Pixar, which opened at the park in 2021 and Avengers Campus (2022).

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EU economy forecast to grow 1.0% in 2024



A woman paying for services at a beauty shop
Expected economy growth is largely due to consumers spending more this year | Photo: Christiann Koepke

The Commission has published this week a new forecast for the European Union economy, with a more upbeat scenario for consumers. After a downturn in economic activity in 2023, inflation rates will continue to drop and the EU economy should gradually grow in 2024. This is largely driven by ‘consumers spending more, thanks to higher wages and more job opportunities,’ it is believed. 

Concretely, the EU economy should grow 1.0% in 2024. The euro area economy should reach 0.8% of growth. In 2025, GDP will grow even more. Meantime, EU inflation has fallen dramatically since it peaked in 2022. It is expected to wind down to 2.7% in 2024 and to 2.2% in 2025.  

The jobs market is also performing well. Despite the slowdown in activity, the EU economy created more than 2 million jobs in 2023. Activity and employment rates of people aged 20-64 hit new record highs in the last quarter of the year. In March 2024, the unemployment rate in the EU stood at a record low of 6.0%. 

Some challenges remain. For instance, investment growth is slowing since fewer new homes are being built, which affects various industries. As a result, it is expected that interest rates will drop more slowly than anticipated. 

The Commission publishes four economic forecasts throughout a given year, covering GDP and inflation data for all Member States, the EU and the euro area. 

In the UK the scenario is also looking positive, with the Office for National Statistics having recently confirmed that the UK unemployment rate for January to March 2024 (4.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (January to March 2023), and increased in the latest quarter. 

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Mango to strengthens its presence in the UK with 20 store openings



Mango store facade at Oxford street, London
At the close of the 2023 financial year, Mango had 60 stores in the UK

Mango, one of Europe’s leading fashion groups, continues its expansion and brand consolidation plan in the UK with more than 20 store openings planned for 2024. Growth is focused on expanding its presence in London and Scotland, as well as the arrival for the first time in several cities in Northern Ireland and central and southern England.

“The UK is one of the priority markets for Mango’s international growth. The increased presence in London and our arrival this year in some cities where we have not been present until now will consolidate the Mango brand and help us to strengthen it internationally,” says Daniel López, Mango’s Director of Expansion and Franchising.

The company plans four store openings in London this year, in addition to last February’s opening of a store in the Windsor Yards shopping centre in the heart of historic Windsor, close to Windsor Castle

Mango will also increase its presence in Scotland with store openings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for the first time will reach cities in Northern Ireland, as well as central and southern England. 

The new Mango store will incorporate the New Med Mediterranean-inspired store concept, reflecting the spirit and freshness of the brand. Sustainability and architectural integration are the key to this new design that conceives the Mango store as a Mediterranean home with different spaces in which warm tones and neutral colours predominate, combined with traditional, handcrafted, sustainable and natural materials such as ceramics, tuff, wood, marble, esparto grass and leather.

Mango has been present in the UK since 1999. In 2021, the company strengthened its presence in the country with the opening of a new flagship store on Oxford Street in London and three other stores in Manchester, Edinburgh and Derby. 

Last year, Mango opened more than 10 stores, mainly in the south and centre of the country, in major cities such as Bristol, London, Manchester and Leeds. Key among them was the store opening in Westfield Stratford City, one of the largest shopping centres in the UK. In addition, the company arrived for the first time in Brighton with a 470 m2 store in the Churchill Square shopping centre.

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