UK graduates set for a sunny summer jobs market


Graduates coming on to the UK jobs' market this summer will be in high demand - at least that's according to the latest poll by the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

The annual survey has said vacancies for graduate positions are growing at their fastest rate for 12 years.

Graduate-level vacancies had risen by 16.7 per cent since last summer, the largest jump since 1995.

The survey of 235 employers also showed that starting salaries had continued to rise in 2006, to an average of £23,136, compared with £22,000 last year.

Yet the big question is whether these optimistic figures tally with the reality on the ground. A study by mobile phone firm Orange in June suggested that companies are increasingly struggling to motivate and support new graduates.

And research by the AGR itself earlier this year suggested many employers were worried that graduates increasingly lacked the necessary social, communication or team-working skills to survive in a competitive corporate world.

The latest survey has also suggested the growth in vacancies has led to a slight reduction in the number of applications per vacancy, with an average of 28 received by employers, compared with 33 last year.

Almost half of graduate vacancies were in London, followed by the south east of England and the Midlands.

The highest-paying employers were investment banks or fund managers, followed by law firms, business servi¬ces companies and utilities.

More than a quarter of the employers said the standard of graduate applicants this year was higher than in 2005, with 15 per cent feeling it had fallen.

AGR chief executive Carl Gilleard said: "The results of our latest survey show the graduate market is continuing to grow, which is great news for the class of 2006. Organisations are still seeing the added value graduates can bring, with vacancies rising significantly and salaries continuing to grow."