Work experience pays off for UK graduates as recruitment to rise sharply, says new report

The UK's top 100 companies are predicting an average 8.7% growth in graduate job opportunities this year, according to a new survey.

A new study conducted by High Fliers Research of the graduate hiring intentions of the UK’s top 100 companies suggests that graduate recruitment will return to pre-2007 levels this summer.The report, The Graduate Market in 2014, finds that the UK’s largest employers anticipate that their graduate employment openings will grow 8.7% this year compared to last year, which it says is a “very substantial increase” in graduate job opportunities.Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall commented: “This very significant increase in graduate vacancies at Britain’s top employers means the job prospects for graduates leaving university this year are the best they’ve been since the start of the recession seven years ago.”Eleven out of the 13 sectors covered by the report predict an increase in graduate opportunities, with the public sector, professional and accountancy services, and engineering and industrial companies being among the biggest winners.The study also underscores the value of work experience in securing a graduate job. Recruiters repeated their warnings from previous years that graduates with no previous work experience have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.Candidates with work experience at these companies have already taken around four in ten of 2014’s available entry-level contracts, with this practice being most pronounced in City investment banks (75% already taken up) and law firms (50% openings filled).The survey also suggests that this year will also be a record-breaking year for paid placements, with top UK employers offering 11,819 of these opportunities for students and recent graduates.Further strengthening the breadth and depth of the talent pipeline and adding value to undergraduates’ studies, around 80% of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes during the 2013-2014 academic year for first- and second-year students and recent graduates.Around a quarter of organisations also offer paid internships and a third of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences for first-year students.

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