Demand for graduate jobs at an all-time high

A major new survey of university undergraduates published today shows that students graduating from Britain’s top universities this summer have made a record number of job applications.

The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2011 by High Fliers Research revealed that there were 343,000 graduate job applications in the 2010-11 academic year, up one-third from the previous year.

The news comes as official employment figures from the Office of National Statistics, also out today, showed that Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen marginally from 7.8% to 7.7%, with the number of 16- to 24-year-olds out of work falling by 30,000.

The High Fliers survey of 17,851 students from 30 UK universities revealed that the average starting salary expected by graduates is £22,600 and that investment banking is the most popular career choice for this year’s university-leavers.

Other popular choices for graduates are expected to be careers in the media, teaching and marketing.

Additionally, the survey found that: a further 25% of the “class of 2011” are planning to remain at university for postgraduate study; 8% expect to take temporary or voluntary work; 13% are preparing to take time off or go travelling; and 14% of finalists have yet to decide what to do next.

Fewer finalists have applied for graduate positions in the police and the armed forces, while the number of graduate job hunters keen to work for the Government or elsewhere in the public sector has dropped by one-fifth, perhaps a reflection of the dramatic cost-cutting measures across the public sector currently being implemented by the coalition.

The survey also found that, after five years in work, graduates expect to be earning an average of £39,900 and one-sixth of this year’s university-leavers believe that their salary will be £100,000 or more by the age of 30.

Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said the survey “shows that confidence in the graduate job market is finally improving and that more of the UK’s top students are expecting to find work after graduation.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see that a record number of students have made job hunting a key priority during their studies and started researching their career options in the first or second year of their degree, rather than leaving their job search until their final 12 months at university,” he added.

XpertHR FAQs on graduate recruitment include:

Is it permissible for an employer to stipulate in a job advert that candidates must be “recent graduates”?

In light of the age discrimination legislation can employers still use university “milk rounds” to recruit employees?

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