Graduate jobs at ‘ten year high’

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THE number of graduate jobs available with top employers this summer is expected to reach a 10-year high, with university leavers also likely to be earning more money, according to research.

It suggests that more openings are likely to be available in industries such as accounting, banking, retail and the public sector, following deep cut-backs in recruitment at the start of the recession around seven years ago.

The 10th annual Graduate Market study, published by High Fliers research, also indicates that pay for young people fresh out of university is set to increase for the second year running.

But there are also warnings from employers that students who have no previous work experience are unlikely to win places on graduate training programmes, amid signs that many vacancies are likely to be taken by those who have already done some kind of work for the firm.

The study is based on an analysis of graduate vacancies and starting salaries at Britain’s 100 leading employers.

Students graduating this summer after completing a three-year degree are the first group to have paid £9,000 a year in tuition fees for their entire course.

High Fliers managing director Martin Birchall said this year’s university leavers will be very keen to ensure that their investment in a university education pays off with a good graduate job.

The findings show that firms increased their graduate recruitment by 7.9 per cent last year, and are likely to expand vacancies by a further 8.1 per cent this year. This is the third year in a row that there has been an increase.

“This substantial increase in graduate vacancies for 2015 takes graduate recruitment beyond the pre-recession peak in the graduate job market in 2007 and means that there will be more opportunities for this summer’s university leavers than at any time in the last decade,” it says.

The research notes that recruitment would have been even higher last year, but there were around 700 unfilled places due to firms making last-minute increases in vacancy targets and rise in university leavers turning down or reneging on job offers.

Data has previously shown that the number of positions available fell by a quarter across 2008 and 2009 - the start of the recession.

There are expected to be more job openings in nine out of 13 major industries, with big increases in the public sector as well as accounting and professional services, banking and finance, retail and the Armed Forces.Together these industries are likely to take on 1,200 extra graduates this year, the research shows.

Students gaining their degree this year can expect to start work on a typical salary of £30,000, up from £29,500 last year. Those going into investment banking are likely to take home the most, with typical salaries of £45,000, while those in the media, IT and telecommunications, accounting and the Armed Forces will earn around £30,000.

More than four-fifths of top graduate employers are offering paid holiday internships this year for students who are about to go into their final year at university, while three-fifths are offering placements typically lasting between six and 12 months for undergraduates.

A third of this year’s entry-level positions will be taken by graduates who have already worked for the company, according to recruiters, through paid internships, placements or holiday work. And almost half of the recruiters who were surveyed for the study said that graduates with no previous work experience are unlikely to be selected for graduate training programmes.

Mr Birchall said: “News of the buoyant graduate job market couldn’t have come at a better time. Graduates leaving university in the summer of 2015 are the first to have paid the new £9,000-a-year tuition fees and are very keen to make sure the huge investment they’ve made in their education pays off with a good graduate job at the end of their studies.”

He added that there are a “record number of opportunities” for first and second-year students to get paid work experience.

“Britain’s top employers will be providing more than 13,000 paid internships, vacation work or course-based placements in 2015.”

Universities Minister Greg Clark said: “Confidence in the economy continues to grow and this is reflected in the fact that Britain’s top companies will recruit more graduates this year than they have for a decade.

“This report will be warmly welcomed by the record number of students who started university this year and highlights how a degree remains one of the best routes into a rewarding career.”