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Lean pickings for new graduates

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Graduate vacancies for 2009 have dropped by 17% and most of the positions have already been filled.

A report from High Fliers Research shows employers began scaling back their graduate recruitment up to 12 months ago and two thirds of them have received significantly more graduate applications than usual, so have filled their vacancies or closed the application process.

In the financial sector there are 47% fewer entry-level jobs than 2008 while in the public sector the number of advertised jobs has risen by 51% since 2007.

But the research shows the UK's top 100 employers advertised 40,000 vacancies during the 2008 and 2009 recruitment seasons and 7,000 have been cancelled or unfilled.

As a result half of students admit they will take any job that is offered to them and 13% have been forced to apply for employers they have little or no interest in.

Managing director of High Fliers Research Martin Birchall said: "Many top employers have already received a record number of applications for their 2009 graduate vacancies and most have either filled their remaining places or have closed off the application process. For those who have yet to begin job hunting, the chances of landing a last-minute place on a graduate programme now seem very slim."

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Parker, group managing director of StepStone Solutions, warned: "Companies need to be mindful that any graduates they are failing to recruit now may develop at competitive firms in the future. Failing to recruiting graduates may harm an organisation's position in the marketplace. Its employer brand within the graduate market, which it may have spent a lot on developing, could be irreparably harmed by an absence of even one year and hamper its ability to attract and retain talent long term."