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Graduate salaries: onwards and upwards

Despite plenty of coverage in the press over the past months about how graduates are struggling to find jobs, I’ve always maintained that there are plenty of jobs out there for the brightest and best candidates. Speaking to graduate recruiters across the industry, the feeling is that there’s a shortage of high calibre grads on the job market at the moment – so in many ways it’s graduates that hold much of the power as employers rummage around for what’s left of the cream of the 2010 crop.

And what’s the result of this mismatch of supply and demand? Answer: increased salaries.

The average graduate starting salary amongst Britain’s top employers will increase by 7% this year to £29,000 according to research by High Fliers. That’s even higher amongst City law firms and investment banks, which tend to top out at £38k and £45k respectively. And it represents a substantial increase on the equivalent average in 2006, which weighed in at £23,800.

Naturally this varies according to sector – with the City pushing up averages – but the retail sector, which brings up the rear on salaries in High Fliers’ research, still offers a reasonable £24k average starting salary and most sectors span across the high 20s and early 30s.

As a Consultant on the graduate team at FreshMinds, when I speak to clients who are less exposed to the market they’re invariably surprised to hear that salaries are so inflated. But I think it serves to prove that the market is less dire than the press like to make out – otherwise surely salaries would be stagnant (or even decreasing?) to reflect the relationship between supply and demand.

Tim Webster is a consultant for FreshMinds Talent Graduate