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Graduate vacancies up, quality of applications poor

The number of graduate vacancies in the UK has increased by 37% year-on-year, with 15,732 entry-level roles advertised in the past month.

The Adzuna UK Job Market Report also shows that graduate salaries are starting to bounce back after a period of decline. The average starting salary offered to graduates in April was £24,105, which is an increase of 1% compared to March. It is, however, still 3.8% lower than April 2013. 

The increase in advertised vacancies has helped ease the competition for graduate roles. In April 2014, there were 30 jobseekers for every graduate vacancy, compared to 50 a year earlier. 

Adzuna co-founder Andrew Hunter told HR magazine the results show that graduate recruitment is "in good health" and it could return to pre-2008 levels by the first quarter of 2015.

"I think there has been too much doom and gloom around the availability of graduate jobs," he said. "Employers, especially in the SME space, will have to start to get creative to attract the best talent if the trend of increased competition for top graduates continues."

Applications not up to scratch

The increase in graduate vacancies could be driven by a lack of suitable candidates, according to separate research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

In a poll of 68 organisations, 87% have unfilled graduate vacancies for 2014. One of the main reasons for positions staying open is the standard of applications – 67% said they have not been of sufficient quality. 

AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood told HR magazine students must move away from the "spray and pray" approach to applying and focus their efforts on making themselves more attractive to employers. 

"There are plenty of career advice resources available to students and graduates who want to find out how to write top quality applications," he said. "A lot of it is a case of students just applying themselves."