'Salaries rise as companies hire more graduates'
UK graduates looking for employment face a brighter landscape than in previous years, research suggests.
The annual survey of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) indicates a 13.2% increase on 2014 in vacancies being offered by graduate recruiters.
It also suggests a £1,000 rise in average starting salaries, to £28,000.
But the study also says the number of female graduates being recruited by AGR employers is lower than it should be and more must be done to address this.
The AGR research suggests London continues to attract large numbers of graduates, with a 46% share of vacancies.
The West Midlands and the South East are the next largest regions, with a 8% and 7% share of graduate recruits respectively.
The study indicates employers in the accountancy or professional services sector continue to offer the highest proportion of graduate vacancies, at 23%.
The public sector offers the second highest proportion (15%), followed by engineering or industrial companies (12%).
The median starting salary for graduates in 2014-2015 was £28,000 - up from £27,000 in 2013-14 and a continuation of the steady increase from £25,000 in 2010-2011, £26,000 in 2011-2012 and £26,500 in 2012-2013.
Law firms offered the highest starting salaries, at a median of £37,000, while banking or financial services companies continued to occupy second place but at a slightly lower starting salary of £31,250.
Consulting or business services, fast-moving consumer goods companies and information and telecommunications companies were the next highest, with median starting salaries of £28,500.
The study also suggests the proportion of women being recruited averaged 42% per employer in 2013-14, despite the fact that 59% of all university graduates are female (according to the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency).
"While the reasons for this mismatch are still unclear, it appears that more could be done to attract female candidates to graduate recruitment programmes," the AGR report says.
The lowest share of female recruits was in engineering and industrial companies (24%) and construction companies (28%).
But women made up the largest share of graduate recruits in the public sector (59%) and retail sector (57%) in 2013-14.
The proportion of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) graduates hired averaged 16% per employer in 2013-2014, which "compares well with the graduate talent pool", the report says, as 19% of university graduates are BAME.
AGR chief executive Stephen Isherwood said: "Gender diversity is an issue which requires more of our attention.
"Although our data cannot explain why women aren't securing more graduate placements, it indicates there is more to be done to attract female graduates who in turn need to make the most of the opportunities available."
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "Today's figures continue to show the significant benefits of a degree for young people.
"Graduates under 30 are enjoying falling rates of unemployment and record earnings, on average. Our reforms are raising education standards across all ages, giving young people the skills to succeed."