Employment experts said this week that job prospects for next year's graduates are bleak.
The Institute for Employment Studies says the graduate market remains characterised by "surpluses rather than shortages" and competition for jobs will "remain intense". Industrial Relations Services says the prospect of a buoyant graduate labour market is "looking more remote".
The survey of 23 leading employers finds there has been a 4 per cent increase in the number of vacancies over the past year, the first rise since 1990. But it warns that the number of graduates is projected to increase by per cent between 1993 and 1997.
The picture is complicated by the large pool of graduates from previous years who will still be seeking employment as will students who delayed their search for work by pursuing postgraduate studies.
The survey predicts that the number of vacancies for new graduates in 1995 will be frozen at current levels.
It said next year's graduate jobseekers face a double blow: "Not only are jobs going to be hard to find, but employers are tightening up their recruitment specifications to be more searching and demanding about the type of person they are looking for."
The IRS -- basing its findings on information from more than 160 companies employing a combined workforce of nearly a million people -- reveals that for the past two years, one in four recruiters have introduced "assessment centres".
These, the IRS says, are the most demanding method of recruitment, with candidates undertaking a range of tests, interviews, and group work under the scrutiny of a panel of assessors.
The IES Graduate Review 1994 by G. Court, H. Connor and N. Jagger. Available from BEBC, PO Box 1496, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset BH12 3YD. Price: Pounds 30. Graduate Recruitment Survey 1994: Vacancies, Salaries and Prospects. Available from IRS, 18-20 Highbury Place, London N5 1QP. Price: Pounds 30.