Graduate vacancies, salaries to rise in UK: Report

U.K. university leavers face a double boon this summer, with both graduate vacancies and wages seen up on last year, according to the latest data.

Figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) show that, on average, employers reported a healthy 17 percent increase in the number of vacancies in their companies for graduates. The banking and financial services industries showed the largest predicated increase—an impressive 54 percent.

Also reflecting improved business confidence, graduate starting salaries are set to improve, with the median rising £500 ($853) from last year to £27,000. Graduate investment bankers or fund managers can expect the largest rewards, with median starting salaries of £43,500.

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Graduate recruitment fell sharply in 2008 and 2009, as business confidence plummeted in the years following the global financial crisis, and the U.K. labor market contracted. Recruitment of university leavers began rising in 2010, before dipping in 2012 and then starting to recover again last year.

"It is encouraging to see that employers are able to invest in graduate talent in this way," said Chief Executive Stephen Isherwood in AGR's biannual report, which was published on Tuesday.

"However this doesn't mean the job market is easy. There are still unfilled graduate vacancies as employers are not always able to find the right people, with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes, for the job."

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Only the fast-moving consumer goods sector and the energy, water and utility sectors anticipated a decrease in graduate recruitment in 2014, of 13 percent and 9 percent respectively.

The report revealed that nearly one-quarter of employers still had unfilled vacancies at the end of the 2013 recruitment period. Anecdotally, employers told AGR that this trend was continuing in 2014.

"Graduates must ensure they really do their research, target their applications and ensure their CVs do them justice if they want to be in with a good chance of securing a place on a graduate scheme," said Isherwood.

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Over half of recruiters surveyed in 2014 by High Fliers Research, a market research company, warned that graduates with no previous work experience had "little or no chance" of receiving a job offer. A record 37 percent of positions were expected to be filled by undergraduates who had previous work experience with their organizations, such as paid internships or industrial placements.

This year's largest graduate recruiter, with 1,550 vacancies, will be Teach First, a charity that enlists top-performing graduates to teach in disadvantaged state schools. Professional services firms PwC and Deloitte will be the next biggest recruiters with 1,200 and 1,000 vacancies respectively, according to High Fliers.

AGR's findings backs up substantiates other reports suggesting an uptick in U.K. graduate recruitment. In June, Thomson Reuters' Incomes Data Services reported that companies expected to hire 8 percent more graduates in 2014 year-on-year. Graduate hiring in the financial sector was seen almost doubling, after a fall of 3 percent in 2013.

The U.K.'s Recruitment and Employment Confederation reported a record contraction in July in the availability of staff to fill permanent roles.

The improvement in the labor market comes at a time of economic acceleration the U.K. On Monday, EY's economic forecasting ITEM Club estimated the country's economy would grow by 3.1 percent this year, beating the likes of Germany, Canada and the U.S.