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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 00:24 GMT
Many graduates 'lack soft skills'
Lecture hall
University leavers are entering a buoyant jobs market, says survey
Four out of 10 large employers expect to struggle to fill graduate vacancies because of a shortage of applicants with the right skills, a survey says.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters biannual survey suggests the number of vacancies is set to rise for the fourth year running - up 15% on last year.

But the average starting salary this year is set to be 23,431 - a below-inflation 2.1% rise on last year.

Employers say many graduates lack "soft skills", such as team working.

The report says that employers feel that there is an "inadequate supply of applicants of sufficient calibre".

"They go on to explain that candidates are normally academically proficient but lacking in soft skills such as communication as well as verbal and numerical reasoning."

This survey is carried out twice a year by the association, which represents many of the largest graduate recruiters among public and private sector organisations in the UK.

And once again, it shows a continued growth in the jobs available - so much so that many employers are struggling to fill vacancies.

London calling

The increase in graduate jobs is accelerating - rising by 15% this year compared with 5% last year.

As a proportion of graduate vacancies unfilled, the employers struggling hardest to find staff are in accountancy, investment banking, engineering and law.

The AGR says that this provides good news for young people set to leave university this summer.

But the vacancies are not spread evenly across the country. More than ever before, London has the largest number, now accounting for 46% of the total.

This sample of major UK employers has more graduate vacancies for jobs in the US (2.8%) than in the North East of England (2.6%).

And looking ahead, the graduate employers say they expect the concentration of jobs in London to increase even further.

The survey also suggests the type of graduate jobs which are going to face the greatest shortages - with firms in construction and engineering the most likely to anticipate a lack of graduates.

Highest pay

In terms of starting salaries, the best-paying employers are in investment banking - with graduates entering on about 36,000. Law firms and business consultancies are next highest.

At the lower end of the pay scale, the lowest graduate starting salaries are in transport and retail jobs, which typically pay 20,000.

There are considerable regional differences - with the typical London graduate starting salary being 27,500 - while in East Anglia pay rates are going downwards, with a typical starting salary of 19,000.

The survey is the latest evidence of the shift in the jobs market towards graduates.

And international surveys have shown that graduates in the UK receive a higher earnings "tariff" over non-graduates than almost anywhere else in the industrialised world.

Graduates' starting pay 'rising'
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25 Feb 06 |  Education

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