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Graduate job vacancies are increasing in the UK, say careers advisers

Careers advisers report an increase in graduate job vacancies, but students are less optimistic about their graduate prospects

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Carly Minsky

January 5 2017
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There’s an optimistic outlook for graduate career opportunities in the UK, according to a survey of careers advisers at UK universities.

Despite Brexit-related concerns about the job market, about 70 per cent of the respondents to AGCAS’ Graduate Labour Market and Student Engagement Survey reported an increase in the number of graduate vacancies compared with the previous year, but this was down by more than 10 per cent from both 2014 and 2015.

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Half the surveyed careers services have seen higher proportions of students and graduates being placed in internships or work placements this year.

But the outlook varies by location and type of university: heads of careers services in Scotland and the North of England were relatively more optimistic this year than those in London and the South of England, and those working at large universities had a more positive outlook compared with last year than those at small universities.

Science, engineering and IT sectors were named as showing the most increase in graduate opportunities.

The only sectors that careers advisers said have less buoyant graduate job markets than last year are energy, public sector, social work and care, retail and media industries.

Bob Gilworth, AGCAS director of research and knowledge, said: “Despite some reports of Brexit-related uncertainty, the graduate market remained relatively buoyant in 2016.

“On-campus employer activity continued to grow and diversify.”

In spite of the optimism from heads of university careers services, students themselves are reportedly sceptical about whether their university education makes them more employable.

According to a survey by EY and research organisation Trendence, only 20 per cent of UK students believe that they will secure their dream job, and this figure drops to 10 per cent for second-year and final-year students.

The survey of nearly 1,400 university students revealed that students are nonetheless overwhelmingly positive about their decision to go to university, even though just over half believe that they are now more employable.

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent at EY, UK & Ireland, said: “The so-called Generation Z grew up during the financial crisis, a time of deep uncertainty.

“Now they are faced with future uncertainties caused by Brexit and wider global political events. This appears to have markedly impacted their outlook on the world of work.

“Employers need to play their part in addressing the needs of students: shaping opportunities which are accessible and engaging with them as they look to enter the workplace.”

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