Graduate recruitment on the wane

The 2009 graduate intake will be a fifth less than last year, new research shows.

The Graduate Recruitment Market in 2009, by research firm High Fliers, found recruitment targets had been reduced by 17% at Britain’s 100 leading employers since the latest round of graduate recruitment began in September.

More than half of employers downgraded their graduate recruitment targets in 2008, with similar numbers doing so again in 2009.

Martin Birchall, managing director at High Fliers, said the cuts were bad news for graduates.

“Not only have vacancies been reduced substantially for those finishing university in 2009, but it is now clear that many of last year’s entry-level jobs did not materialise either – leaving many graduates from the ‘class of 2008′ out of work too,” he said.

Graduate recruitment for professional services, engineering and industrial employers had been hit the hardest, cut by up to 44% in 2008-09.

But there were some positive signs in the research.

Although one-third of employers said they had reduced their graduate intake budgets for 2008-09, another fifth had increased their spending.

The sectors prepared to recruit the most graduates included accountancy, the public sector and the Armed Forces.

Matthew Parker, managing director of software company StepStone Solutions, said firms would ignore graduates at their own peril.

“The employer brand within the graduate market, which an organisation may have spent a lot on developing, could be irreparably harmed by an absence of even one year, and hamper its ability to attract and retain talent long term,” Parker told Personnel Today.

Barclays, Microsoft and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among several high-profile companies that agreed to help run a government-backed internship scheme earlier this week.

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