Finance sector drives graduate jobs recovery - survey

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

image captionInvestment banks increased average starting salaries to £42,000

Graduate job opportunities have bounced back in the financial sector - but there are tough times in the public sector, according to an annual survey.

The High Fliers survey of 100 top employers shows a reversal of last year's collapse in graduate jobs.

The survey shows a significant improvement for university leavers - with vacancies up by 18% and average starting salaries increased to £29,000.

But competition is intense - averaging 45 applications for every vacancy.

This research, the Graduate Market in 2010, suggests that university leavers face a sharply-divided jobs market - with a resurgence in finance-related jobs and a falling number of vacancies in the public sector.

Banking pay rises

Vacancies in banking, accountancy, investment banking and accountancy are all up by a third.

But vacancies in law are down by 4.5% and public sector opportunities are down by 11%.

image captionThere are record numbers of graduate job hunters

The increase in demand for finance jobs has helped push up starting salaries.

In investment banking, starting salaries are now averaging £42,000 - up by 10% on last year - while in the public sector starting salaries are averaging £25,000.

The overall average is now £29,000 - up from £27,000 last year.

The research suggests an underlying optimism among private sector employers.

Overall recruitment is back to the levels of four years ago - and only about a 10th of employers expect any further reduction in recruitment next year.

But there is a challenge for jobseekers in the number of graduates now chasing vacancies.

Many employers are reporting record levels of applications, says the research, with numbers driven up by some of last year's graduates who are still job hunting.

"University leavers from the Class of 2010 are still facing huge competition to land a good graduate job this summer," said Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers.

"Employers have already received an unprecedented number of applications this year for their graduate vacancies and many organisations have now filled all their places for 2010 or have closed off their applications early."

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