Graduate vacancies up by 17% in 2014

The number of vacancies for graduates has increased by 17% in 2014, with strong growth in financial services, according to research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The AGR Graduate Recruitment Summer Survey 2014 is based on replies from almost 200 graduate recruiters across 17 sectors. It suggests graduate vacancies in the financial services sector have increased by 54% this year.

Transport and logistics is the sector that is reporting the next largest increase (29%), while opportunities in the public sector rose by 19%.

Only two sectors reported a decrease in graduate positions – fast-moving consumer goods (down 13%) and energy, water and utilities (down 9%).

The annual starting salaries for new graduates are also increasing in 2014. The median is up by £500 to £27,000. The financial services sector offered the highest financial rewards, with an average starting salary of £43,500.

AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood told HR magazine the figures show a return to strength for the graduate market. He did, however, stress that this does not translate to the market being an easy one for graduates.

"I’d urge anyone looking for a graduate position to really do their homework and make sure their application is as strong as it can be," he said. "Graduate employment is a two-way street and both employers and graduates need to make sure that their targeting is effective." graduate director Mike Fetters said the figures are encouraging for graduates after many tough years.

"However, it’s too early to break out in celebration yet," he warned. "While youth unemployment has started to decline, at 18.5% it still remains far above the national average. We continue to urge employers, educators and the Government to work together to improve employability skills and offer more training opportunities for the UK’s young people.”