Class of 2017 could reap starting salaries of £40,000

Last year, hundreds of positions were left unfilled at the end of the recruitment period

The 400,000 graduates set to leave university this summer could have more opportunity than ever to forge highly paid careers in the accountancy and professional services sector.

Despite two of the Big Four firms being amongst 29 organisations that announced they have less to spend on graduate recruitment this year, there are still expected to be in excess of 4400 vacancies, with a median starting salary of £30,000.

Last year, hundreds of positions were left unfilled at the end of the recruitment period. Organisations in accounting and professional services, and the public sector, had over 500 vacancies remaining, whilst the companies considered to be the 100 best graduate employers by The Times had 800 jobs unfilled. These “Top 100” employers did take on over 19,500 new employees, but this was still far fewer than had been anticipated.

Despite these shortfalls, employers still plan to increase their graduate recruitment by 4.3% this year. One sixth of the positions available will offer starting salaries of £40,000, with 13 of the top graduate programmes offering £45,000.

There had been some concern that the economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote would impact negatively upon graduate employment in this sector, but as yet, this has clearly not transpired. Martin Birchall, director of High Fliers Research, has noted that the investment in graduates shows top companies are still willing to spend good money on their workforce.

Organisations will be looking to recruit a more diverse workforce than in previous years, so that their staff are representative of a range of backgrounds and experiences. Other key concerns are improving the image of the company in the eyes of graduates, and ensuring that the highest calibre of students are recruited.

There has already been a 9% increase in graduate job applications completed, compared with the same period in the 2015-2016 recruitment drive. This bodes well for employers, who will often target the traditional universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Leeds and Manchester, when looking for potential candidates.

The fact that a university education can potentially open doors to opportunities with big employers has not gone unnoticed by Universities Minister, Jo Johnson. She described higher education as the ideal option for those looking for a rewarding career, and promised that government reforms would help to keep meeting the needs of both graduates and employers alike.

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