Vacancies for graduate positions have grown at their fastest rate for 12 years, annual research will reveal this week.
The Summer Graduate Recruitment Survey 2006, by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), will show that graduate-level vacancies have risen by 16.7% since last summer – the largest jump since 1995.
The survey of 235 major employers, conducted for the AGR by research firm Hobsons, will show that graduate starting salaries have also continued to rise in 2006 to a median of £23,136, compared with £22,000 last year.
The growth in vacancies has led to a slight reduction in the number of applications per vacancy – with an average of 28 received by employers, compared to 33 last year.
Almost half (46%) of graduate vacancies were in London, followed by the South East (11.6%) and the Midlands (9.9%).
The highest-paying employers are investment banks or fund managers, which pay a median starting salary of £36,000, followed by law firms, business services companies and utilities.
The largest percentage rise in median starting salary is seen in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, with an increase of about 13%.
More than a quarter of the employers surveyed said the standard of graduate applicants in 2006 was higher than in 2005, with 15% feeling it has fallen.
This year’s survey also addresses the issue of retention, finding that 91% of graduates recruited last year are still with the same organisation. This dropped to 75% for those recruited in 2002-03.
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said: “The results of our latest survey show the graduate market is continuing to grow, which is great news for the class of 2006. Organisations are still seeing the added value graduates can bring, with vacancies rising significantly and salaries continuing to grow.
“However, graduate recruiters must not get complacent; a new generation of students with different needs and wants may require a different approach to recruitment. Perhaps this slight fall in the number of applications per vacancy may be a warning to recruiters that they need to remain competitive,” Gilleard added.
16.7% – the growth in graduate-level vacancies since last year.
£23,136 – the median starting salary for this year’s graduates (up 2.9%).
28 – the average number of graduate applications per vacancy.
91% – the retention rate of graduates recruited in 2005.