Good news on graduate vacancies: or are we back to 2008?

In 2010 (it's the good news here), employers took on 17.9 per cent more graduates than they did last year. Hurrah! But wait - is there bad news?

Well, in 2009 they took on 17.8 per cent fewer graduates. So we’re stranded somewhere near the back end of 2008, with Alexandra Burke at the top of the charts.

We've lost two years overnight.

And as, in the two years to 2009, graduate vacancies at the Times Top 100 Graduate employers, surveyed for the latest Graduate Market report from HighFliers (here), fell by about a quarter (and if you drill down you’ll see that all the engineering jobs did much, much worse), you might well be thinking there's not much to sing Hallelujah about there.

Oh well. When surveyed in January, employers were only looking to take on 11.8 per cent more candidates this year: some things have got better. 

Finance, accountancy and banking have done best, although IT and telecoms vacancies leapt up following a poor couple of years (78.5 per cent up on 2009), engineering and industrial were holding up with a 9.5 per cent increase and oil and energy were recruiting 6.3 per cent more graduates than last year.

Applications for each job are running high, at an average of 45 applicants for each vacancy (before the recession this figure was 35). Engineering jobs are higher – at 49.7 candidates for each job – but IT candidates have fewer competitors (32.9). It’s fierce in oil and energy: 72.6 graduates chasing each vacancy. Mind you, at least you’re not in consumer goods: a mind-boggling 265.8 people applying for each job there. Just think of the interview waiting room: you’d be fighting for a chair.

And finally, the figure you’ve all been waiting for: your first pay cheque. Well done, if you went for IT and telecoms: you’re just above the national median salary of £29k per year. Bad luck if you went for plain old engineering: you’re at the bottom of the table (again), on £25k or less.

Most vacancies for this year are now filled. And next year? Most of the top employers say they’ll maintain recruitment or increase it.

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