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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 05:25 GMT 06:25 UK
Graduates face tougher job market
graduation ceremony
Graduates could wait 12 months for a promised job
Competition for jobs amongst UK graduates is getting substantially tougher as companies reduce their intake, a report has said.

More than one quarter of all employees have slashed their target number of graduates during the past three months alone, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has said.

Employers are having to make tough decisions - withdrawing job offers is a last resort

Carl Gilleard
Association of Graduate Recruiters

Almost one in five have deferred a starting date, while one in 10 have withdrawn job offers altogether.

The economic downturn is being blamed for the changes, as companies struggle to place existing staff internally rather than make redundancies.

Some room for growth

"The vacancies we had in the company could be filled by existing employees, and it was better for us to redeploy staff than to make any redundant," one employer explained.

The downturn has most severely affected the electrical and optical equipment, mobile phone, and computer manufacturing industries.

But some industries - especially retail, distribution and hotels and catering sectors - are still showing healthy growth.

And 13% of employers actually reported an increase in the number of graduates they planned to recruit.

Choosing to defer

Overall, the number of vacancies is down 5.5%.

"Employers are having to make tough decisions - withdrawing job offers is only used as a last resort," Carl Gilleard, AGR chief executive said.

"The deferment approach appears to be gaining in popularity and while it is not ideal, it does help companies to maintain a return on their investment and soften the blow for the graduate".

While most companies blamed the economic downturn for the cutbacks, a minority mentioned that there was a shortage of candidates of a high enough calibre.

The research was conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies and was based on the responses of 166 leading UK employers.

See also:

24 May 01 | Business
Graduates eye 60K salaries
15 Feb 01 | Education
Bright future for graduates
26 Jan 01 | Education
E-applications to universities rise
08 Dec 00 | Education
Graduates pick and choose jobs
22 Aug 00 | UK
Graduates going for gold
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