Graduates chase fewer positions

There has been a drop in the number of positions available to graduates with
the average number of job applications per graduate rising to 42.

Figures released by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) at its
annual conference last week, show a 3.4 per cent drop in graduate-level job
vacancies compared with numbers recruited last year. Meanwhile, 42 per cent of
employers report a fall in vacancies on offer.

The research, which covered almost 200 organisations in the public and
private sector, indicates increased competition among graduates, with employers
receiving an average of 42.1 applications for every graduate vacancy during the
2002-2003 recruitment year, compared with 37.2 per vacancy last year.

However, vacancies have not decreased across the board. More than a third of
respondents report having more vacancies in 2003, and 22 per cent are
recruiting the same amount of graduates as last year.

Industries suffering the most cutbacks include investment banking and oil
companies, while construction, transport and logistics expanded their intake of
graduate recruits.

The survey shows only one in five employers expect vacancies to increase
next year, while half anticipate a similar amount of positions to be offered.
However, Only 14 per cent believe there will be a drop in vacancies or no
recruitment at all next year.

Median graduate salaries rose to £20,300, which is an above inflation rise
of 4.1 per cent on 2002. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said this
was very positive, and modest falls in vacancies this year should be balanced
against rises seen in previous years. "This is definitely nowhere near a
crisis comparable to the situation in the early 1990s," he said.

However, Vance Kearney, Oracle’s European vice-president of HR, warned that
graduate recruitment is becoming increasingly elitist.

He said the growing number of people entering further education, coupled
with the reduction in graduate jobs, will mean that only the best-qualified
university leavers will find graduate posts.

By Michael Millar

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