A Despite conference jeers, job cuts, and a financial crisis, health secretary Patricia Hewitt may find a reason to smile this week, as the NHS (British National Health Service) was named one of the top places to work by students. Among engineering, science, and IT students, the health service was ranked second in this year’s Universum UK graduate survey of ideal employers, a leap of 54 places from last year. The annual survey, conducted in the UK since 1997, canvassed the opinions of more than 7,700 final and penultimate-year students studying for degrees in business, engineering, science, IT, and the humanities, at 39 universities, between January and March this year.
B Each student was presented with a list of 130 employers, nominated by students through a separate process, from which they selected the five they considered to be ideal employers. The Universum list is based on the frequency of an organisation being selected as an ideal employer, following a weighting process. This year, government departments and public sector organisations dominated the top spots, with the BBC ranked first among humanities, engineering, science, and IT students, retaining its place from last year, and coming third for those studying business. Among humanities students, the BBC was followed closely by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Civil Service fast stream. The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence were not far behind, ranked fifth and sixth respectively. As well as the NHS, engineering, science, and IT students favoured the Environment Agency, which leapt 83 places, from 86 in 2005 to number three this year. Meanwhile, business students voted accountancy giants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as their favoured employer, followed by HSBC.
C At a London awards ceremony sponsored by the Guardian, Foluke Ajayi, head of NHS careers at NHS employers, said its success this year reflected the reality of the health service, which is the third largest employer in the world and the largest in Europe. “We employ people in other clinical areas, such as health care. We employ IT managers, engineers, architects,” she said, adding that the health service is no longer seen as a “second choice” career. “People recognise that they can give something back to the community, but still develop a worthwhile career.”
D Sarah Churchman, director of student recruitment and diversity at PwC, said her company’s success is down to a good campus presence, its commitment to invest in its employees and, with offices around the world, the chance to travel, something which just under half of the students polled said was an important factor when it came to looking for work. One of the big four accountancy firms, PwC is not into gimmicks, and it does not offer freebies but, said Churchman, it does offer “a solid foundation” for anyone wanting a career in business. “We sell our people skills, so we are interested in building skills. We’re not selling something, we invest in our people,” she added.
E Further down the rankings, but still with reason to celebrate, was John Lewis, which matched bumper sales this year with a leap from 111th place in 2005 to 26th among this year’s humanities students. Sky found itself in 12th place, up from 104th last year, and the Environment Agency also proved popular among this student group, rising from 138th in 2005 to 7th this year. Among the business fraternity, shell saw a reversal of fortunes, rising to 30th place after last year’s 76th position. There were a few dramatic drops in the rankings. The Bank of England fell from 14th in 2005 to 27th this year among humanities students, although it retained its mid-table position among those studying business. British Airways also saw a slight dip, as did McKinsey & Co, which dropped from 11th to 22nd among business undergraduates.
F Perhaps more surprisingly, this year was the first appearance in the rankings of Teach First, a small charity launched three years ago that aims to create the “leaders of the future” by encouraging top graduates who would not normally consider a career in teaching to commit to work in “challenging” secondary schools for at least two years. The organisation came straight in at number eight among humanities students and was voted 22nd by those studying engineering, science, and IT. James Darley, director of graduate recruitment at Teach First, said he was “bowled over” by the news. “We were not expecting this. We’re a registered charity, only able to physically go to 15 universities.”
G The scheme, based on one run in the US, has the backing of more than 80 businesses, including Deloitte and HSBC. During their two years, candidates undertake leadership training and emerge from the programme with a range of skills and experiences. “We hope in the long term they will be our ambassadors, as we call them, in politics, industry, charities, who will have done it and continue to support the educationally disadvantaged,” adds Darley. This year, 260 graduates are expected to take up the Teach First challenge in schools in London and Manchester, more are expected over the coming years, as the scheme expands to Birmingham and three other cities by 2008. Of the first set of recruits to complete the programme, half have gone on to work for “some amazing companies”, while the other half have chosen to stay on in their schools for a further year – 20% in leadership roles.
H While more than half of students were concerned about achieving a good work life balance, a third said they wanted a job that would challenge them. Although male Students tended to focus more on the practical aspects of work, such as “building a sound financial base”, women, particularly those studying for humanities degrees, had a more idealistic outlook, saying making a contribution to society was a key career goal. Almost half of all students said that paid overtime was a key part of any company compensation package, However, business students said that the most important compensation, apart from salary, was performance-related bonuses, while important considerations for humanities students were retirement plans. Working overseas also scored highly among those surveyed this year, with 45% of business students, and 44% of humanities students, listing it as a priority. Ethical considerations and corporate social responsibilities were also mentioned, with a large percentage of humanities and engineering, science and IT students saying it was a key consideration when it came to choosing an employer.
The text has 8 paragraphs (A – H).
Which paragraph does each of the following headings best fit?
14. Most popular employers for different students
15. Students’ expectations
16. Give and develop with the NHS
17. Reason for the NHS to be happy
According to the text, FIVE of the following statements are true.
Write the corresponding letters in answer boxes 18 to 22 in any order.
A In the survey students could only rate employers on a given list
B The Environment Agency rose the most places in this year’s survey
C The NHS offers a variety of careers outside health care
D British Airways fell in popularity amongst business students
E James Darley was surprised by his organisation’s performance in the survey
F Most Teach First teachers continue in a teaching career after two years
G Most students want to achieve a good work life balance
H Most business students were concerned about working for an ethical company
According to the information given in the text, choose the correct answer or answers from the choices given.
23. The survey covered students
A from all British universities
B studying a variety of subjects
C who were in their last year of studies only
24. The BBC
A was first choice in most categories
B was unpopular with business students
C employs more graduates than most other organisations and companies
According to the information given in the text, choose the correct answers from the choices given.
Sarah Churchman says PwC did well in the survey because it
A often goes to universities to meet students
B provides many scholarships for students
C offers many opportunities to travel