Page last updated at 00:37 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Job prospects for graduates 'are improving'

Graduates face a better jobs market, but competition will remain tough

Graduate vacancies in the UK in 2010 are set to "increase significantly" after two years of cuts, research says.

A study of jobs with 100 top employers found they had increased recruitment targets for 2010 by 12% (1,600 jobs).

But the High Fliers Research report warned more than a quarter of these vacancies have already been filled by graduates who left university in 2009.

The study found 75% of employers had had "significantly more" applications for graduate programmes this year.

And a number of employers have already closed the application process for 2010 positions.

Banking jobs

Almost half the employers surveyed now expect to recruit more graduates this year than last.

The City's top investment banks are intending to take on a third more graduates than in 2009.

The research also found retailers, high street banks, accountancy and professional services expected to increase their graduate recruitment.

For those who have yet to begin job hunting, the chances of landing a place on a graduate programme in 2010 are looking increasingly slim
Martin Birchall, High Fliers Research

The largest recruiters of graduates in 2010, the research found, will be PricewaterhouseCoopers, with 1,039 vacancies, followed by Deloitte with 1,000 vacancies.

The Army will have 735 vacancies, Teach First will have 650, KPMG will have 650 and the RAF will have 600.

The more buoyant graduate jobs market comes after two years of cuts in vacancies. Graduate vacancies fell by 18% in 2009 and by 7% in 2008.

The report found graduate starting salaries were not expected to rise this year, with the average offer for 2010 remaining at the 2009 level of £27,000.

'Widespread concern'

In additional research with 1,001 final year students, High Fliers found they remained pessimistic about their job chances later this year.

A quarter of the finalists surveyed said they had applied for jobs in which they had little or no interest and half thought they would have to take any job they were offered.

Half of those surveyed said they had little confidence of finding a graduate position after graduating and a third were planning to enrol on a postgraduate course.

Nearly half said the recession had put them off applying for jobs in investment banking and a third had been put off working in property.

Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said the increase in vacancies for 2010 was encouraging.

"But students leaving university this summer will be disappointed to find that many of these new positions have already been filled by graduates from the 'class of 2009' who had job offers postponed last year," he said.

"Competition for the remaining vacancies is therefore likely to remain extremely tough and there is a widespread concern on campus that this year's graduate recruitment is shaping up to be just as difficult as in 2009.

"For those who have yet to begin job hunting, the chances of landing a place on a graduate programme in 2010 are looking increasingly slim."

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