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Graduate vacancies set to have a boost but 'tensions persist'

Category: Industry News, Students, Employer, Graduate

Graduate vacancies set to have boost but 'tensions persist'

Employers are predicting an increase in graduate vacancies this year, but nearly half have warned that a lack of skills led to unfilled positions last year

The number of graduate vacancies is predicted to rise this year, reflecting an increased confidence in the economy among employers, according to a new survey.

Available graduate positions are expected to increase by 11.9 per cent, double that of the previous two years, which saw roles increase for university leavers by 4.3 per cent in 2013 and 2014.

It represents the largest increase in graduate jobs since 2007, and follows two years of economic growth in the UK, in which GDP passed pre-recession levels.

In total, employers are estimated to have offered 21,682 jobs last year.

The survey, published today by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), is based on the responses of 200 AGR member employers and provides insight into graduate recruitment.

According to the report, the majority of sectors are expecting to increase their vacancies this year, with only three sectors predicting a fall.

IT and telecommunications are expecting the biggest rise, with 26.9 per cent, followed by the public sector (23 per cent), construction (22.1 per cent), engineering (19.7 per cent) and investment banking (12.3 per cent).

On the other hand, consulting and business services firms are predicting a 5.3 per cent decrease in the number of vacancies, while the energy, water and utility sector are anticipating a minimal fall as well.

The report also suggests that many companies are planning to offer school leaver opportunities. 72.7 per cent of employers surveyed said they would offer vacancies in this area, up from 54.7 per cent in 2013.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the AGR, said: “Graduate vacancies continue to grow year on year and graduates are still more likely to be employed than non-graduates.

“It's a good thing that more employers are also engaging with the schools market,” he continued. “It means employers are thinking more holistically about their talent strategies. It also means a greater variety of opportunities for young people.”

Commenting on the report, Charlie Ball, head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, welcomed the findings saying it was positive news for university leavers who could be “optimistic about the year ahead”.

“This year’s graduates can be confident that there are more opportunities available and that they can expect better job prospects than the previous cohort as the economy strengthens.

“However," he added, "they should remember that they will, as always, need to put the effort into finding these positions, make considered applications and seek careers advice from their university.

“Employers should be mindful that some sectors, such as IT and engineering, are starting to experience skills shortages as the economy recovers and these skills are more in demand. Shortages in other fields may emerge as business conditions improve."

However, while the number of positions is expected to increase, Mr Isherwood warned that “tensions persist” in the graduate jobs market, as 1,400 additional jobs could have been offered by employers last year, if they had found enough candidates with “the right mix of skills”.

According to the AGR survey, 44.8 per cent of employers reported unfilled vacancies in 2013/2014, with the largest proportion occurring in the IT and telecoms sector, where 11.8 per cent of graduate vacancies remained unfilled.

While some employers cite lack of technical and professional skills as the key reasons for the unfilled positions, others point to a rising number of graduates backing out of offers.

Writing in the report, Mr Isherwood said: "Difficulties in attracting the right talent with the right mix of skills in the right location are on the increase.

"Not since 2008 has the problem been so pronounced."

A Business Department spokeswoman said: "Creating a highly-skilled workforce is critical for the future growth of the economy, and graduates have a vital part to play. The best way to produce more employable graduates is for employers to work directly with universities and colleges.

"This will ensure graduate skills meet the needs of business."

Percentage change in vacancies from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015:

IT/Telecommunications: 26.9 per cent
Public sector: 23.0 per cent
Construction company or consultancy: 22.1 per cent
Engineering or industrial company: 19.7 per cent
Investment bank or fund managers: 12.3 per cent
Banking or financial services: 10.3 per cent
Accountancy or professional services firm: 6.8 per cent
Law firm: 3.3 per cent
Retail: 0.7 per cent
Energy, water or utility company: -0.3 per cent
FMCG company: -5.0 per cent
Consulting or business services firm: -5.3 per cent

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