Graduate vacancies are expected to rise by 7.5% in 2016 according to High Fliers Research, but what does that reveal about the current state of the graduate recruitment market?

Titled The Graduate Market in 2016, the report focuses on graduate roles and opportunities, but shows that despite the rise in openings, that there were 1,000 unfilled graduate vacancies last year alone.

This survey is completed on an annual basis and takes its statistics from more than 100 companies. These companies are shown to be the most popular employers with UK graduates today, with all employers featured said to advertise the best career opportunities of the moment.

Graduate jobs growth

In 2014, there was a 7.9% jump in career openings for graduates, while in 2015 that figure rose to 8.1%. When you consider that openings have increased by 7.5% again this year, it will come as little surprise that UK graduate vacancies have reached record highs. These figures mark the fourth consecutive year of graduate jobs growth.

Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research said: “For students leaving university this summer, it’s very welcome news that Britain’s top employers are recruiting their biggest-ever intake of new graduates in 2016 and will be investing a record amount in their training, development and starting salaries.”

He added that as the job market strengthens, “it’s clear that our brightest graduates are becoming increasingly choosy about the employers they join”. Birchall pointed to figures from 2015 that showcase that “record numbers turned down employers’ job offers or changed their mind about an offer” they had accepted while they were still completing their university studies.

Vacancies are still going unfilled
In total, there were 1,074 graduate vacancies left unfilled last year. The reasoning behind this wasn’t because there weren’t enough graduates to fill the vacancies, but because those with degrees turned down job offers, but why?

More and more graduates are looking for roles they can excel in, rather than for work that simply pays the bills. Instead of settling for easy paying jobs and work that requires little expertise, graduates are holding out for their dream jobs. With so much talent available, recruiters are becoming overwhelmed. On top of this, they are finding it hard to source companies offering desirable graduate jobs.
With this in mind, employers need to make more effort and more openings suited to those with skills or for those willing to learn and climb the career ladder. A number of companies are now offering in-house training, attractive wages, great benefits and an appealing work environment. Other ways to attract new graduates include offering flexible working hours and employee incentives.

Taking note

Employers are starting to take notice of these statistics, with the average starting wage now coming in at an impressive £30,000. Popular supermarket chain Aldi is offering new talent in the region of £42,000 and an Audi A4 for those picked for store management roles.

Despite the higher wages on offer, both internships and work experience are still hugely popular with graduates. Today’s degree holders are willing to work hard for their careers, even if it means taking additional exams to excel in their chosen roles.

Graduates who have engaged in work experience for a company will fill around a third of today’s vacancies. Work experience is an asset to employers as it enables them to, in a sense, trial potential employees, whilst getting to know more about them and whether they are motivated, skilled and willing to learn. It’s also one way to train up new staff before offering them a full time position.

Work experience could be a deal-maker or breaker. One example of this in today’s industry is investment banking. Those who embark on a work experience placement in this field are highly likely to secure a full time job as 77% of vacancies in this field are given to those who have worked for the employer previously. It’s important to note that all employers recommend graduate candidates to have some form of work experience under their belt before applying for their dream role.