Feb 4 2014
More graduate vacancies are expected to be available this year, but university leavers still need to ensure they have the right skills and abilities to land a job, a new survey suggests.
There is expected to be a 10.2% rise in openings in the coming graduate recruitment round, according to a poll of leading graduate employers.
The survey, published by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) predicts that a number of industries will have more vacancies available, with job openings in IT and telecoms expected to rise by 40%.
The public sector is also predicted to have a large increase in vacancies - up 20% on last year, along with energy, water and utilities (up 17.5%) and banking and financial services up 15.7%.
There are expected to be falls in the numbers of jobs available for university leavers in law as well as investment banking.
AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood said: "Given the upturn in the economy, and the slight increase in graduate vacancies recorded last year, we'd expect employer predictions to be fairly buoyant for the year ahead; so an expected rise of over 10% is welcome news.
"There are some sectors - IT and telecoms, energy, and banking and financial services - looking at double digit growth for 2014.
"What this doesn't mean, however, is that graduates should be any less focussed on their career search. We know that, even through the darkest days of the recession, our members reported unfilled vacancies because they couldn't find graduates with the right mix of skills and attributes.
"Graduates need to think carefully about their applications and ensure they understand what a potential employer is looking for."
The survey, which questioned 202 AGR members in 19 industries, also found that school leaver programmes are becoming popular with leading firms.
More than half (54.7%) of AGR members, who traditionally concentrate on recruiting university graduates, are offering job opportunities to school leavers, it found.
A further 4% are planning on introducing these types of roles in the next recruitment round (2014/15) while 15% said that they hope to do so at some point in the future.
But jobs for school leavers are not replacing vacancies for university graduates, the poll suggests.
In general, the employers questioned disagreed that offering school leaver positions had resulted in them recruiting fewer graduates.
School leaver vacancies were most popular in industries such as transport or logistics, engineering or industrial and accountancy or professional services.
They were least popular for law, consulting or business services and the public sector.
Mr Isherwood said: "At the moment, it doesn't appear that employers are replacing graduate vacancies with school-leaver vacancies; rather businesses are investing in a range of different programmes to attract and recruit a diverse range of young people - from apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships, to school-leaver training leading to professional qualifications.
"However, it may be something which will begin to take hold in the future and we look forward to finding out in more detail how this section of the recruitment market is changing to meet the demands of UK plc. It is reassuring that many employers continue to invest heavily in emerging talent."
A separate survey of schoolchildren reveals that the majority feel positive about their job prospects, although they are likely to feel more pessimistic as they get older.
The poll, which questioned around 2,000 11 to 16-year-olds, found that about two-thirds (65%) were "positive about their future job options".
While 68% of those aged 11 to 13 agreed with this statement, this fell slightly to 63% among 14 to 16-year-olds.
The survey, published by the Association of Colleges (AoC), also asked children about the types of job they would like to do.
Girls were twice as likely to want to be in medicine than boys (17% compared with 8%).
The top choices for girls besides medicine were education (11%) animal care (8%) and performing arts (6%), while for boys it was working in the uniformed services (10%), IT (9%) and engineering (7%).
Around 49% of youngsters said that they felt well-informed about what jobs were available, while 67% agreed they were getting the support they needed to make decisions about their future.
Parents and teachers were the people most frequently approached by youngsters for careers advice (70% and 57% respectively), while professional careers advisers were only used by 27% of those surveyed.
AoC president Michele Sutton said the research suggested parents and teachers were struggling to keep up to date with work trends, which could hamper young people's education choices if they had a lack of information.
"If young people are predominately relying on parents and teachers with limited experience of the rapidly changing world of work and careers, then they are making their educational choices blindfolded," she said.
Universities minister David Willetts said: "The substantial rise in the number of graduate vacancies demonstrates that confidence in the UK economy is growing and businesses really value the skills the UK's first-rate graduates can bring to their companies.
"A degree is still one of the best routes to a good job and a rewarding career. The increased number of graduates has been met by increased demand from employers which is why we have made the historic commitment to remove the cap on the number of people who could go to university by 2015-16."