Job prospects looking up for graduates

New research from High Fliers Research shows graduate jobs at Britain’s top employers will reach a seven-year high in 2014

A new report on the graduate job market says that graduate recruitment at Britain’s top employers is set to rise sharply in 2014, taking graduate vacancies for those leaving university this summer to their highest level since 2007.

The Graduate Market in 2014 – a study of graduate vacancies and starting salaries at the country’s one hundred leading employers, conducted by High Fliers Research in December 2013 – shows that employers are stepping up their graduate intake by 8.7% in 2014, the biggest annual rise in recruitment for four years.

Graduate vacancies were cut at the start of the recession by 6.7% in 2008 and 17.8% in 2009, but increased by 12.6% in 2010 and 2.8% in 2011. Graduate recruitment dipped again by 0.8% in 2012 before recovering by 2.5% in 2013.

Employers in 11 out of 13 major employment areas are preparing to take on more new graduates in 2014, with the biggest increases in recruitment at public sector employers, accounting and professional services firms, City investment banks, retailers and engineering industrial companies, which together expect to recruit almost 1,200 extra graduates this year.

The median starting salary for new graduates in 2014 remains unchanged at £29,000 for the fifth year running.

The report also highlights that graduate employers are offering a record number of paid work experience places this year for university students and recent graduates, through a comprehensive programme of paid internships and industrial placements, with an increasing number of places available for first year undergraduates. Highlights from The Graduate Market in 2014 report include: 

• The UK’s leading employers are increasing their graduate vacancies by 8.7% in 2014, compared with the number of graduates hired in 2013, providing more opportunities foruniversity-leavers than at any time since the start of the recession.

• This very substantial increase in graduate vacancies is the biggest annual rise for four years and takes graduate recruitment to its highest level since 2007.

• Graduate employers in eleven out of thirteen key industries and business sectors are planning to hire more new recruits this year than in 2013.

• The greatest growth in graduate vacancies is at public sector employers, accounting & professional services firms, City investment banks, retailers and engineering & industrial companies which together intend to recruit almost 1,200 additional graduates in 2014.

• The largest individual recruiters of graduates in 2014 will be Teach First (1,550 vacancies), PwC (1,200 vacancies) and Deloitte (1,000 vacancies).

• Although the total number of graduate vacancies is set to increase sharply in 2014, recruiters have confirmed that 37% of this year’s entry-level positions will be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations – either through paid internships, vacation work or industrial placements – and therefore are not open to other students from the ‘Class of 2014’.

• Three-quarters of the graduate vacancies advertised this year by City investment banks and half the training contracts offered by the leading law firms are likely to be filled by graduates who have already completed work experience with the employer.

• More than four-fifths of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2013-2014 academic year – a record 11,819 paid placements are available.

• Two thirds of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students and three-fifths offer industrial placements for undergraduates (typically lasting 6-12 months as part of a university degree course).

• Increasing numbers of employers now also have work experience places for first year undergraduates – a quarter of organisations offer paid internships and a third of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences for first year students.

• Over half the recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.

• Graduate starting salaries for 2014 at the UK’s leading graduate employers are expected to remain unchanged for an unprecedented fifth year – at a median of £29,000.

• A quarter of top graduate programmes will pay new recruits more than £35,000 when they start work and ten organisations are offering at least £40,000 to this year’s graduates.

• The most generous salaries in 2014 are those on offer from investment banks (median of £45,000), law firms (median of £39,000), banking & finance firms (median of £33,000) and oil & energy companies (median of £32,500).

• The highest published graduate starting salaries for 2014 are at the European Commission (£41,500) and retailer Aldi (£41,000).

• Together, the UK’s top employers have received 9% more graduate job applications so far, compared with the equivalent period in the 2012-2013 recruitment round.

Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall commented: “This very significant increase in graduate vacancies at Britain’s top employers means the job prospects for graduates leaving university this year are the best they’ve been since the start of the recession seven years ago.

‘There are also more opportunities than ever for university students to get paid work experience with the country’s most sought-after graduate employers – together they are offering over 11,000 paid internships and work placements this year for first and second year undergraduates.”

The Graduate Market in 2014 is produced by High Fliers Research, an independent market research company which has specialised in researching graduate recruitment at UK universities since 1994.



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