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Graduate recruitment in UK returns to pre-recession high

Graduate recruitment in UK returns to pre-recession high

A new report from research firm High Fliers shows that the graduate recruitment market has returned to pre-recession levels.

Graduates have faced some fairly testing times in the years since the financial crisis took hold. Employment prospects slackened for a while, but a recent flurry of positive data has suggested that the market is getting back on its feet. In fact, a new report from research company High Fliers shows that the UK’s graduate job market is actually back at its pre-recession peak.

The Graduate Market in 2014 shows that organisations that appeared in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers rose by 2.5 per cent in 2013 from the previous year. That more than reversed the 0.8 per cent decline seen in 2012 and left graduate opportunities performing strongly overall.


Another 8.7 per cent more entry-level roles are expected to be on offer this year than in 2013 – the biggest leap for four years, which takes this year’s graduate recruitment to its highest level since 2007.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, accounting and professional services firms continue to perform strongly, with PwC and Deloitte taking second and third place respectively on the list of the biggest graduate recruiters. But public sector employers actually led the way in vacancy growth, indicating that budget cuts in some departments have not filtered down into their talent pipelines.

Meanwhile, the largest salaries on offer at these top employers are found in investment banks, with median pay standing at £45,000 per year. Law firms took second place at £39,000, while banking and finance and oil and energy companies offered a median £33,000 and £32,500 a year.


Crucially, the competition for roles at these top companies remained fierce, and experience appears to be the key. A record 11,819 places are available on paid work work experience programmes at four out of five top employers, and they are increasingly making opportunities available for first and penultimate-year students.

A record 37 per cent of new graduates were hired directly from work experience undertaken at the company, the report found, indicating the importance of gaining insight into different employers and roles. However, more than half the recruiters said that without any experience at all, graduates are unlikely to get through the selection process and stand little to no chance of being offered a job.

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