HPC, in collaboration with Aon, has produced a research report that offers key insights into the challenges facing employers who want to nurture early careers talent within their organisation.



We surveyed large companies from more than 15 industries that together employ approximately 150,000 people across Ireland and hire more than 1,500 university graduates each year. In the report, we highlight six key takeaways and provide four key recommendations to organisations to improve early career programmes that take into account future talent strategy goals.



The survey reveals that close to half of all organisations (44%) see retention as the most critical challenge facing their Early Careers Programmes. This is the primary challenge facing employers for several reasons, including competition from larger organisations; salary expectations; a lack of career paths; a desire for graduates to travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an unwillingness for some graduates to move internationally to progress professionally.


Commenting on the results of the survey, Siobhan Kelly, Director of Human Capital Solutions, Aon Ireland, said: “Early Careers individuals, when properly supported and nurtured, can serve as the building blocks of a next generational workforce. Our experience, knowledge and data tell us that while pay continues to be a key differentiator in retaining early careers talent, it is no longer enough.


To stand out from competitors in the context of full employment and ever-increasing uncertainty, employers need to first gain a clear understanding of why people are joining their organisation. This includes spending time on understanding and being clear on your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). A strong EVP is a key driver of candidate attraction and employee engagement, which in turn drives retention.”


Importance and Purpose of Early Careers Programmes – Amidst a dynamic market for talent, it is clear that Early Career Programmes are increasingly being viewed as vital to an organisation. When asked how important these programmes are to an organisation’s talent strategy, 30% of respondents rated it as highly important, with a further 50% rating it as important – a total of 80%.


Need for Change – Despite the challenges faced by organisations in hiring and retaining early career talent, the report also reveals that most organisations have yet to embrace the need for change over the coming two years. While 18 percent of organisations are seriously considering change, more than 50 percent of leaders have said they are equivocal about the need to change.


HPC’s Head of Talent Consulting, Kevin Hannigan said: “This report offers key insights into the types of challenges facing employers looking to nurture early careers talent within their organisation. With retention the top issue for employers today, it’s clear that business and HR leaders need to re-assess how they present their organisation and ensure that early career talent has a consistent experience at all stages of their Early Career Programmes. With development offerings, programme structure and salary all known to be important to early career professionals, transparency around these elements will help to ensure that candidates do not rethink their decision at offer stage, or even after joining, all of which would impact retention.


“As the world of work changes, it has never been more important for companies to reassess their Early Career Programmes. Given the challenges that organisations are facing in retaining early careers talent and the critical importance of these programmes to their organisation’s talent strategy, it’s surprising that half of the organisations surveyed are equivocal about the need to change. By ensuring their offering is fit for purpose, employers can help first-time employees to thrive in this new world of work and forge their careers in an environment dominated by hybrid working.”


HPC & AON Contributors


Kevin Hannigan – HPC

Kevin Hannigan leads the Learning and Talent Consulting offering and is also a Client Director at HPC. He works with clients to develop, deliver and evaluate bespoke solutions that drive performance across their business.


He is a highly skilled consultant and facilitator with a wealth of experience in designing the systems and processes that support effective learning, measurement and talent development.


Before joining HPC in 2013, Kevin was head of learning and development for Matheson, Ireland’s largest law firm and for C&C Ireland.


Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn >>>


Follow HPC on LinkedIn >>>



Siobhan Kelly – Aon

Siobhan Kelly is the Managing Director of Human Capital Solutions, Aon Ireland.


Aon plc (NYSE: AON) exists to shape decisions for the better — to protect and enrich the lives of people around the world. Our colleagues provide our clients in over 120 countries with advice and solutions that give them the clarity and confidence to make better decisions to protect and grow their business.


Connect with Siobhan on LinkedIn >>>


Follow AON on LinkedIn >>>

Ready to discuss how a partnership with HPC can advance your business?