Concerns as Graduate Employment Falls

by Beth Willmot

A significant decrease in post-degree employment has been highlighted by a recent survey, raising concerns among graduates and current students.

The survey, conducted by the specialist market research company High Fliers, has shown there were 0.8% fewer graduate-level jobs among the top 100 UK companies in 2012, with the biggest reductions seen at investment banks and accounting firms, the first drop to be seen over the past three years.

This is a reversal of the trend seen previously over the last 2 years, which saw levels of graduate employment rise by 12.6% in 2010 and 2.8% in 2011. These increases gave hope to University students following several years of plummeting employment during the years of recession and global financial crisis. Therefore the resulting figures have once again begun raising concerns for those soon to graduate.

On a positive note, the companies surveyed said they expected overall vacancies to nudge up by 2.7% during 2013. However, with competition ever growing between post-graduates, and the job market becoming more and more of a battle ground, such a small increase in opportunities is unlikely to ease tensions. Virtually all the places will be taken by those graduates not only with high-level degrees, but also with extensive and relevant work experience.

Recruiters told the study they expected a third of all the jobs to be filled by graduates who had already spent time at their organisation during work placements, a proportion rising to about 50% for big law firms and three-quarters for investment banks. The message  coming from recruiters at more than half the organisations asked, was that those without any sort of relevant work experience would have almost no chance of  even being considered at all, no matter how remarkable their academic record.

Therefore, advice to current students is to gain as much relevant work experience during their years of study, and not to leave the job hunting until after graduation. Gaining a 2.1 or first-class degree is no longer sufficient to ensure coming out tops in a sea of eager job hunters, it is therefore best to begin building relationships with large companies who offer graduate schemes before your competitors.

Those who are successful, can look forward to an average starting salary of £29,000, an amount well above the UK average of £26,500, and a figure that has stayed stable for the past 4 years. Those entering the field of investment banking can expect much higher, with the average starting salary sitting at around £45,000. Whilst those in the public sector earn less than the national average, with a yearly salary of just £22,000.

Overall, however, the picture remains somewhat gloomy for those soon to leave university with extensive debts-the expected 2013 vacancies still remain 11% lower than the pre-recession level of 2007.





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