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Finance to lead surge in UK graduate recruitment: IDS

U.K. employers are planning a hefty uptick in graduate recruitment this summer, with financial firms expected to lead the way, according to a study.

Companies are expecting to hire 18 percent more graduates in 2014, year-on-year, a report from Thomson Reuters' Incomes Data Services published Monday said.

Graduate hiring in the financial sector is seen almost doubling after a fall of 3 percent in 2013. The manufacturing and services sector were also bullish, with both expecting to increase recruitment by 22 percent.

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"Recruitment prospects for this year's crop of graduates look brighter than they have for a long while, as the number of job opportunities is set to rise sharply," says Nasreen Rahman, assistant editor at IDS, which provides information on employment issues.

"Some sectors such as finance appear to be making up for lost time, aiming to recruit several times more graduates in 2014 than they did in 2013."

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The report will come as good news for U.K. job-hunters. There were 60 applications for every graduate vacancy in 2013, according to IDS, up on 49 per vacancy in 2011.

Nearly nine out of 10 employers still have unfilled graduate vacancies, the Association of Graduate Recruiters reported at the end of May.

"Much is being made at the moment about the 'value' of a university degree in the job market, but we know anecdotally from our members that most candidates fall down at the application stage," said Stephen Isherwood, the chief executive of the association, in a news release.

It is not just graduates who are in demand. The Association of Professional Staffing Companies reported a 29 percent year-on-year jump in permanent placements for jobseekers at all stages in their careers on Monday.

As in the graduate jobs market, the upturn was driven by demand from the finance sector, where permanent recruitment had shot up by over one-third.

"Permanent placements have seen particularly strong growth in sectors such as accounting and finance. This mirrors plans by the 'Big Four' accounting firms to substantially increase their graduate level recruitment this year, with KPMG and PwC, for example, both planning to hire 30 percent more candidates than last year," said the association in a news release on Monday.

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The uptick in job vacancies is yet to translate into higher wages. Both this year and last, the majority of employers opted to freeze graduate starting salaries, according to IDS. Law firms offered the highest median graduate salaries last year, at £35,000 ($58,604), followed by financial services firms at £26,500.

"Those fortunate enough to be recruited onto a training program will be paid less in real terms than their predecessors, as employers take advantage of the competition for places. The class of 2014 will be paid less than the class of 2008," said Rahman.

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