The HighFliers report is out today, so here's a summary.
First, let’s start by pointing out that the survey covers only the Times Top 100 employers and so is only really a snapshot sample of well-known graduate employers and shouldn't be taken as representative of all employers. But it is interesting for all that and, after all, covers the employers that students themselves find the most popular, so gives an important picture of those organisations and schemes that students are likely to apply to this year
The bottom line is that the employers covered are expecting, overall, to be offering more jobs than last year – a very welcome finding. It’s not evenly spread, though – reports of recovery in engineering and IT seem to be substantiated by the finding that the firms in these sectors look to be upping recruitment.
The Armed Forces are, not surprisingly, cutting recruitment, as are media, law and some professional services – although that may be because the latter recruited heavily last year.
Much of the press coverage has focussed on the report that half the recruiters interviewed have warned that graduates with no work experience will struggle to get selected. High Fliers haven’t actually stated that the employers want this experience to be ‘relevant’ or even necessarily at graduate level. The kind of experience students gain in term-time and vacation working is often very valuable, and there's no indication that employers aren't interested in experiences of this kind.
The 100 employers covered are collectively offering 11,296 paid work experience and internship places this year as well, so there are chances for students to gain experience before applying. Nevertheless, it's not a good time to be graduating with a thin CV and this provides a timely reminder to students that they need to have something to show on there to stand a good chance of a job on graduation.
84% of the recruiters interviewed have vacancies available in London, but more than half also have jobs in the North West and the Midlands. 62% expect to have jobs in finance, 57% in IT, and 40% in HR.
There is a section on salaries, but unfortunately because of the small sample size and focus on popular employers, investment banking tends to drag the overall average up to a level that isn't reflective of the graduate jobs market as a whole. There’s an interesting rundown of average salary by sector, and it seems that in most sectors, starting salaries remain flat.
We also have a rundown of applicant volumes, with many surveyed employers expecting more applications per vacancy this year.
Overall, I'm not dancing a merry jig with delight at the findings, but nor are we looking at a graduate jobs meltdown. The graduate employment market, judging by this sample, appears to be very slightly better than last year, albeit with the caveat that some very popular sectors, most notably media, may be even harder to get into than in the past. Other sectors are looking to expand and there are signs of the long-awaited recovery in engineering and IT.
I have to finish with an amusing direct quote:
“Just one sector – IT & telecommunications – has had a drop in applications so far this year, with an average of a fifth fewer applicants than in 2010-2011. Two recruiters from the sector commented that although the volume of applications had decreased, the quality of candidates had improved.”
Yes, I know n=2 is hardly the whole sector, but it's an interesting counterpoint to current criticism of IT teaching.