In the current season of graduation, recent graduates are taking off their academic robes to start finding their feet in the world of employment. With 3 out of every 4 students now graduating with an upper-second or a first degree, and therefore facing higher competition, it seems that entering into the graduate labour market is not quite plain sailing. In the last decade, however, things have definitely been looking up. The graduate wage has seen an increase from £23,000 in 2007 to £25,000 in 2016, with first-class graduates earning £2,000 more (on average).
The employment rate is also high at 87%, with 88% of postgraduate and 87.3% of graduates gaining employment in one form or another. It's the law firms and the energy sector who are offering the most generous salaries in 2017, with a median of £47,000 and £43,000 respectively. Furthermore, the country’s top employers have planned to increase graduate jobs by 4.3% this year; the fifth year seeing an increased level of graduate recruitment. Teach First was the largest individual recruiter in 2016, with PwC and Deloitte following after, at 1870 and 1100 vacancies respectively.
Graduates themselves have been more keen to get into employment this year with the UK’s top employers having received upward of 9% more applications in comparison to the previous year. 2 out of 5 of the UK's top companies have even suggested that the quality of applications from students had seen an improvement. Perhaps some of this is due to the fact that 90% of the top graduate employers are offering paid work experience and ¾ of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students.
It suggests that engagement with companies while still at university has increased employment potential and benefited both parties. This may have been the result of employment strategies used by companies themselves. While fewer than a fifth of the country’s leading employers have increased their graduate recruitment budgets for 2016-2017, employers have been actively marketing their 2017 graduate vacancies this year. They have been using presentations and career fairs, promoting graduate opportunities, targeting them at an average of 20 UK universities. Advertisements on campus and on social media have also been another method of recruitment over advertising in career sector guides.
Graduates are also turning down job offers that they may have previously accepted and over 800 graduate positions were left unfilled last year, reducing the graduate intake at over a quarter of the UK’s leading employers. The prospect of post-‘uni’ gap years or taking ‘time out’ perhaps means that students are not so keen to plunge straight into graduate labour. Or perhaps it is that students are keeping their options open and rejecting jobs for a more desired role. Furthermore, in 2016, more than 50,000 new graduates went into non-graduate employment; perhaps another indicator of graduates prioritising job suitability over employment prestige?
Whether you’re about to take the plunge into the world of graduate labour or putting it hold for a deserved post-graduation holiday, it doesn’t seem all too bad. Applying for graduate jobs coming straight out of your degree doesn’t ever seem to get any more enjoyable or easier, but the prospects for graduates are ultimately looking pretty good!