More vacancies for graduate-level jobs as top bosses step up recruitment

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Top employers received around 39 applications for every graduate job this year amid a rise in vacancies, research suggests.

A new study reveals that the number of graduate level openings available has now returned to pre-recession levels, with big increases in industries such as the media, engineering and consultancy.

Overall, a third of graduate employers have stepped up recruitment in the last six months, taking on more university graduates than they expected, according to an annual survey conducted by High Fliers Research.

The survey is based on responses from 100 leading graduate employers, including firms such as PwC, Jaguar Land Rover and Unilever. It reveals an 11.6 per cent increase in job openings this year, with overall recruitment returning to the same level as 2007 – before the start of the recession.

The biggest number of vacancies is in accounting and professional services (4,442 vacancies available), the public sector (3,415 job openings), investment banking (2,148 openings) and engineering and industrial (1,650 vacancies).

In total, 11 out of 13 industries have seen a year-one-year rise in vacancies for graduates.

The most significant rise has been for media companies, the research says, with vacancies up 28 per cent on last year. Job openings for consulting firms have risen by 27.2 per cent, with accountancy and professional services up 23.8 per cent and engineering and industrial vacancies up 15.5 per cent.

On average, employers have received 39.2 applications per vacancy, although for some industries it is much higher.

Consumer goods firms report receiving 186.3 applications for every job, while for oil and energy companies it was 97.8 and media 86.6.

Banking and finance employers, along with high street retailers, also received at least 50 applications for each position.

More than two thirds of firms said that they ask graduate applicants to have gained at least a 2.1 at university, while around a quarter want prospective employees to have gained a minimum number of Ucas university “tariff” points, which are based on their A-level results.

The typical starting salary for this year is £29,500, the study found, the first increase in graduate wages for four years.

Investment banks are offering the most generous starting salaries at around £45,000, it adds.