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Substanial increase in graduate vacancies

The number of graduate jobs available at Britain’s top employers is set to surge this year, a major study has revealed. For those leaving university this summer, there will be more vacancies available than at any time since 2007.


A study conducted by High Fliers last month found Britain’s 100 leading employers are increasing their graduate intake by almost 10% in 2014. It represents the biggest annual rise in recruitment for four years. The largest increases in recruitment have been predicted to come from public sector employers, accounting and professional services firms, City investment banks, retailers and engineering and industrial companies. Together these employers expect to hire over a thousand extra graduates.

A quarter of the best graduate programmes will pay employees more than £35,000, with 10 organisations offering pay packages of at least £40,000 to this year’s graduates. Law firms and investment banks are among those offering the most generous salaries for graduates. The median starting salary for new graduates this year will remain unchanged for a fifth year at £29,000.

Competition is still thought to remain fierce. Applications for graduate positions at the country’s top employers have risen by nine per cent compared to last year’s recruitment round. It has also been confirmed that over a third of this year’s graduate entry level positions will be filled by those who have completed a placement at the organisation. This is particularly prevalent among City investment banks and leading law firms, where the ‘Class of 2014’ who have no previous experience with the employers will find just over a quarter of their vacancies up for grabs. Students and graduates were issued a warning by over half of employers involved in the study who said graduates without previous work experience have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisation’s graduate programmes.

Further research by High Fliers has found applicants who can boast experience are three times more likely to get the job.
Britain’s top employers mostly target only 11 to 15 universities. Oxford and Cambridge were found to lag behind Nottingham and Manchester in the list of universities targeted. Despite ranking 17th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, the University of East Anglia did not feature inside the top 25 universities which are targeted by the largest number of the best employers.

A UEA spokesperson said: “UEA works to build relationships with employers of all types, and places an emphasis on the richness of opportunities for new graduates, not only attracting top names. However at the Recruitment and Opportunities Fair in October 2013, UEA did welcome big name companies including Coca-Cola and Bank of England.

“Lists such as that by High Fliers tend to represent a small number of very large corporations and major engineering firms. This region has a very high proportion of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and Norfolk has recently seen the highest level of SME creation in the country, so it’s not realistic to expect large numbers of local graduates to work for corporates without migration to London and elsewhere. UEA does work extensively with local employers, both corporate and SME, to create a wide range of internships and other work opportunities.”

Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research said: “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”.

He added: “And there are 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.”

UEA said: “As there’s no precise definition of a ‘graduate programme’, and they’re traditionally found formally in large corporations, no data is gathered to enable the university to answer this question accurately. However, of 1,190 UEA 2011/12 graduates of first degrees in full-time work, over 75% were in ‘professional or managerial’ occupations after just six months. (HESA DLHE survey 2011/12).

“There are many more graduate level opportunities beyond conventional graduate training schemes so the number entering these schemes is not the only barometer of graduate success.”


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September 2021
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