Graduate job vacancies are 20% higher than in 2019, before the Covid pandemic, and are set to increase over 2022.
According to the Institute of Student Employers’ annual Vacancy Survey, the UK’s largest graduate employers are reporting that job vacancies for graduates will increase by more than a fifth (22%) in 2022 compared with 2021.
Last year, competition for posts was particularly high among graduates as around 91 people applied for each advertised position. With more jobs to apply for this year the high level of competition is likely to recede.
Sectors forecast to see the highest jobs growth for graduates this year are the built environment (48% growth), energy, engineering and industry (41% growth), and health and pharmaceuticals (37% growth).
The charity and public sector is the only industry so far reporting a reduction in the number of graduate jobs in 2022 although it still has more vacancies than it did in 2019.
The estimates are based on the graduate recruitment cycle – employers generally start advertising vacancies for graduate programmes in the autumn to fill positions starting the following summer/autumn so by January they have a reasonably accurate picture of hiring figures for the year.
All sectors have returned to pre-pandemic levels of hiring with the exception of jobs in retail and fast-moving consumer goods. While this sector is recruiting 3% fewer graduates than in 2019, it has seen vacancies rise by 20% from 2021 to 2022. Over the same period school leaver jobs in retail have increased by 55% since last year.
Overall, school and college leaver vacancies did not dip during the pandemic and have grown by 17% compared with 2021. As well as retail experiencing strong growth, finance and professional services has grown by 37%, and the built environment sector by 30%.
The Institute’s survey found that although competition for graduate jobs reached a record high in 2021, nearly half (48%) of graduate employers had received fewer applicants than this time last year. This was put down to the increase in graduate vacancies and difficulties engaging students with online careers events now they have returned to campus.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE, said: “The number of graduate jobs has slowly increased but this is the first time we’ve seen hiring back to pre-pandemic levels. It demonstrates business confidence and how much employers continue to value a degree.
“This is great news for those job hunting. The hike in vacancies means a return to a student-driven market. However, with a significant number of employers noting a drop in the quality of applicants, students should be aware of resting on their laurels.
“The graduate labour market is and always has been competitive. While students should feel confident about their prospects, they need to apply themselves rigorously to their job search and make every application count.”