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Graduate Recruitment: AGR 2011

The results are in…

The most eagerly awaited part of the annual AGR conference is by far the results of the AGR graduate recruitment survey. The longest running survey of its kind, it is held biannually and provides members of the AGR, and graduate recruitment community, invaluable benchmarking and market insight into the latest statistics.

Controversially, the results were released a week early this year to an impatient UK press, provoking some mixed reviews and eager criticism in light of the recent graduate market and changes to higher education funding moving forward.

With a total of 202 participants to the survey this year, the first stat to be announced was positive:  21507 vacancies listed for the 2010-2011 period. Not a bad figure considering the scaremongering that’s been apparent in the media, leading people to believe that there are ‘no jobs out there’.

All sectors demonstrated an increase in number of vacancies when compared to last year, with Consulting coming in at a massive 149.3% rise, Retail 76.6% and Insurance 53%. Slightly lower in the rankings, surprisingly, was the Accounting and professional services sector which came in at a 14% increase. This did nothing to effect the sector’s stake in the overall percentage of vacancies however, Accounting was still leading the way with 20.6% of the total vacancies listed, followed by retail at 12.7%.

Let’s talk money. After two whole years of almost no increase in the average graduate salary, at last there is some movement in line with our slowly improving economy. The average salary is up 2% on last year from £25000 to £25500. Again, accounting leads the way with the largest increase percentage of 7.1%, with banking and financial services at 1.7% and no change in the retail sector.

Average sector salaries are no surprise this year with Law offering the most generous amount of £37,000, closely followed by Investment Banking at £36,500 and other industries staying in the mid to high £20,000’s. There was strong discussion around salaries and how they may look to change in light of the new higher education funding. With tuition fees soaring to a maximum of £9,000 a year and graduates consequently leaving university with a largely increased student debt, it is predicted that the demand for higher salaries in order to pay off these debts will call for employers to revise the amount they offer their graduates.

The application and selection section to the survey results was what the media really homed in. There was a huge increase in number of applications per vacancy this year – totalling 83.3 on average. This has almost doubled since 2008-2009 where the average number was 48.8, and is still a large increase on last year which was 68.8.

So why the huge increase? Are there really no jobs and too many graduates? No, the panel decided. The rise in applications per vacancy is, in their opinion, down to the fact that graduates have been ‘blanket applying’ this year to ensure they secure a role post graduation.

Despite this sharp rise in applications, the great news is that quality hasn’t been compromised. 57.4% of respondents agreed that the quality this year matched that of last year.

Predictably, there are still specific sectors leading the way with number of applications and it is far from equal across the board. Investment banking heads up the table with a huge 232.5 applications per vacancy, followed by Energy at 187.8, FMCG at 137.5 and trailing behind was Consulting at 31.3.

A promising number with regards to internships and placements – 95.8% of organisations paid their interns last year, which was up from the year before at 84%. It was noted that internships are increasingly becoming a reliable pipeline for graduate sourcing with 63% of firms offering an internship programme and, of this, 32% will convert to permanent graduate places. It’s thought that this is likely to increase next year as organisations continue to bring in interns.

Overall then, a truly positive looking set of results that suggest that things are on the up for the graduate market. As Carl Gilliard, Cheif Exec of the AGR put it – “I am cautiously optimistic about [the survey’s] findings, which provide a welcome indication that the graduate recruitment market is beginning to overcome the impact of the recession.”

Elsie Rutterford is a consultant on the FreshMinds Talent Graduate Team