The slump in the graduate job market could be reversed within three years, according to a survey of employers, writes Alison Utley.
Almost half of the 900 firms in the annual CBI/Mercer survey of employment trends said that they expected to take on more graduates in the near future, while 29 per cent predicted fewer vacancies for unqualified workers.
Careers advisers welcomed the news following a difficult year since the events of 9/11 caused a sharp decline in graduate jobs.
"We have all been waiting for an upturn as vacancies have been well down over the past 12 months following a very buoyant period immediately beforehand," said Robert Gilworth, head of the careers centre at Leeds University.
But Mr Gilworth stressed that financial markets were still volatile and said the next few months would be crucial.
Even well-qualified graduates have found the job market an uphill struggle this year. Dave Greenwell, a postgraduate chemist at Leeds University, has been dismayed by the lack of job opportunities from big pharmaceutical companies.
He said most graduates were resigned to applying for posts aimed at new graduates that paid about £10,000 less than they would have expected.
The survey also found that 30 per cent of firms believed that skills shortages had a "significant" or "severe" impact on business. The worst hit tended to be in the construction industry or professional services such as accountancy and legal consultancy.