Students' Choice_Employers - Report 2020

Students Choice FINAL


2020 has been a year nobody could have predicted, yet as we begin to emerge from lockdown restrictions, our attention turns back to the economy and the youth.

For the past 5 years, BlackBark Productions has operated the GradStar Awards (, identifying the most employable tertiary level students from thousands of entries each year, and this year was no different. In September, GradStar announced the Top100 Students of 2020, and also the ’10 of the Finest’. However, this year, we added a little extra to the entry form: asking the students to list their top 5 preferred employers. No suggestions were offered and no sectors put forward, the students were just asked to name the 5 companies they would most like to work for. After receiving almost 5000 responses, over 23,000 unique answers, the data was mined and the Students’ Choice Awards of 2020 was born.

Announced by the students in a webinar hosted on the 17th November, 2020 and attended by both the employers and the students, the results were a result of employer branding conducted over the years, sometimes predictable and sometimes surprising.

Laura Barker, MD and Founder of the GradStar Programme says; “We are over the moon to be launching the Students’ Choice Awards, these young people are our future and are here to take the country forwards, their opinions matter and we need to hear what they think. We developed the GradStar Students’ Choice Awards as a demonstration of our commitment to our future leaders who have had such a turbulent year, and also corporate South Africa who have developed some amazing innovations in the workplace during extremely challenging economic conditions. Congratulations to all the winners.”

The full report provides insights into students’ preferences in grad programmes and their contents as well as announcing the preferred employers making it a MUST READ for all those involved in the graduate recruitment space. The questions were formulated by forming a steering group of graduate recruiters from organisations including McKinsey, Old Mutual, Absa and BP, ensuring the content is up to date, valid and relevant.