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Ernst & Young is flooded with applications for its graduate trainee scheme

Ernst & Young has reported a surge in demand for its graduate trainee scheme, with applications doubling compared with this time last year and attendance at its campus recruitment events up nearly 110%.

The professional services firm has already received more than 4,500 applications for the 700 places available on its 2011 graduate training programme. The news comes on the day that the Higher Education Careers Services Unit releases its latest graduate unemployment stats.

With the overall number of UK graduate vacancies in decline, according to recent research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, and the unemployment claimant count continuing to rise, Ernst & Young says the competition for graduate jobs is tougher than ever.

Stephen Isherwood, head of graduate recruitment at Ernst & Young, said: "Over the past two months, we’ve seen interest in our graduate programmes sky-rocket. We run campus recruitment events across many of the UK’s leading universities, talking to students about pursuing a career in professional services, and this year we’ve had to put on additional events to cope with the level of demand."

Professional services are one of the key industries continuing to recruit large numbers of graduates. Whereas overall graduate vacancies in the UK are down by 6%, vacancies available in professional services – according to the AGR – have increased by 17.1%.

Isherwood added: "Final-year students need to start applying for positions sooner rather than later. In an increasingly competitive jobs market, those who rest on their laurels will simply miss out. As the squeeze on the public sector starts to take hold, it’s only going to get tougher for those entering the jobs market for the first time."