Graduates face tougher time in hunt for jobs

This year’s graduates are facing a
tighter job market, according to figures released today by the Association of
Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

A survey of some of the UK’s leading employers
shows a 3.4 per cent drop in UK graduate level vacancies this year, compared
with the numbers of graduates recruited in 2002, reflecting the current
cautious economic climate.

Along with this fall in vacancies, the survey
also indicates increased competition for graduate jobs in the UK.

Employers received an average of 42.1
applications for every graduate vacancy during the 2002-3 recruitment year,
compared with 37.2 applications per vacancy in 2001-2.

But the median graduate starting salary has
climbed to £20,300, an above-inflation rise of 4.1 per cent on 2002.

The outlook for 2004 suggests that both
salaries and vacancies will remain fairly stable next year.

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR,
said: "This survey shows that graduate level vacancies are stabilising
somewhat – the modest falls in vacancies this year and last need to be balanced
against the large rises we saw in previous years. This is definitely nowhere
near a crisis comparable to the situation in the early 1990s, and it is
important that those graduating this summer do not lose their nerve.

"Although it is important to bear in mind
that we are talking about graduate level jobs offered by some of the UK’s
larger businesses, the scale of the survey, covering almost 200 organisations
in the public and private sectors, suggests that it is fairly representative of
the market as a whole."

The AGR’s Graduate Recruitment Survey is a
bi-annual barometer of the employment situation for graduates in the UK. The
survey is based on the responses of AGR members – many of the UK’s largest
graduate recruiters in both public and private sectors – carried out during
June 2003.

By Quentin Reade

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