A staggering 87 percent of employers say they value a positive work attitude over qualifications, according to new research from Indeed.

However, 87 percent of students still believe employers have a preference for those with a university degree.

With A-levels results day just two days away (18th August), employers say qualifications are no longer as important as before but soft skills are more so.

Four in five employers (81%) say, providing a candidate has the right attitude, they would be more invested in those looking to start an entry level position without a degree.

The hiring landscape and qualifications

This flexibility and willingness to train and upskill talent is indicative of the hiring landscape – where recent ONS  statistics show the number of job vacancies in April to June 2022 at an all time high of 1,142,000.

As demand for workers continues to exceed pre-pandemic levels and as worker shortages persist, employers are showing signs of being more open minded than ever regarding qualifications.

Employers also believe a strong work ethic (62%) and willingness to learn (63%) to be the biggest attributes to those most likely to succeed in their career; these soft skills are valued six times more than having a strong university degree (13%) or high A-levels (11%).

Transparency and guidance around entry-level jobs needed for A-level students

However, that message is not  always getting through to students who largely still believe employers are on the lookout for university graduates (87%), with a further 53 percent  thinking it would give them more options for their future career.

Almost a quarter (24%) of students are not aware of other options outside of higher education or university post A-levels.

With this addressed, almost three in four (74%) confess they would be more likely to go straight into an entry level job if they knew a degree wasn’t a necessity to their employer, with 83 percent  wanting more opportunities from employers to entice them into the job market.

Entry-level roles on Indeed’s platform have risen by 51 percent since 2019 with some offering starting salaries above the national average.

Fibre network engineers command the highest salary of any entry-level position, earning an average salary of £34,600 followed by junior software engineers (£31,600), trainee engineers (£26,700) and recruiters (£26,600).

The cost-of-living crisis

Macroeconomic factors, such as the cost-of-living and economic slowdown are having an impact on future choices of students.

For those students who do want to go straight into the workplace, 55 percent are not sure where to begin and rising costs are pushing many further away from the traditional path of going to university before starting their careers.

A staggering two thirds (66%) would choose to go straight into work for monetary reasons (35% citing cost of living and 32% saying university is too expensive).

Danny Stacy, Head of Talent Intelligence, UK & Ireland, commented: “A-level results day is an anxious and exciting time for students hoping to earn the grades they require to enter university. But for hundreds of thousands of people not planning on higher education, it’s a time for evaluating what the future holds and considering the jobs and careers open to them.

“The good news for those planning on taking their first step on the ladder is that the jobs market appears in good shape and this is also true of entry-level roles, which are at their highest point in three years. Our research also suggests that employers are showing greater willingness to look beyond university degrees alone and take into account attitudes and soft skills.

“There are more job vacancies in the UK than unemployed people causing acute hiring challenges and our survey shows that employers are exercising greater flexibility to recruit fresh talent, and potentially lower requirements.

“While recruitment should be guided by skills demanded by the role, employers should also be open to thinking outside the box when looking to fill vacancies and taking a more flexible approach to candidate requirements.

“Young people can be the breath of fresh air that many struggling industries need. What they lack in workplace experience, they make up for with a host of soft skills. Building diverse workforces is conducive to performance – diversification in age is no exemption.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.