Undergraduates who are already gearing up for the jobs race come July, will be pleased to hear that the jobs pool is set to be boosted by hundreds of thousands of new roles in the coming year.

According to a recent survey of small and medium sized firms (SMEs) by commercial finance provider GE Capital SMEs are planning to hire a staggering 660,000 recruits over the next 12 months.

This figure represents a 26% leap in a year-on-year comparison and means that graduates will have an even greater number of roles to vie for as they enter the jobs market for the first time.

The monthly Business Trends Report by accountants BDO, which pulls together all the major UK business studies, also presented more good news for graduates. It showed that the prospects for employment have hit a level not seen since 2008.

One industry sector that is set to provide a valuable boost to the jobs market, particularly for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), is the oil and gas sector.

The burgeoning nature of the oil and gas industry means that it is set to create 39,000 jobs over the next two years.

The findings, which comes as part of  survey of 100 companies, commissioned by the Bank of Scotland, shows that skilled graduates will increasingly become in demand as the sector continues to grow.

Commenting on the survey findings, Bank of Scotland commercial area director Stuart White, said: “The findings of this report are excellent news for the economy, demonstrating the employment-generating nature of the oil and gas industry now and in the future.

“With most of the UK’s oil and gas firms clustered in Aberdeen and the north-east, Scotland should reap the largest share of these new jobs; however other parts of the UK will benefit from expansion plans.”

However, while oil and gas firms are set to offer up a number of roles to the market in the coming year, more than a third of employers (38%) outlined that a shortage of suitably skilled workers would present one of their biggest challenges.