The graduate market in 2015

I’ve just finished reading the annual High Fliers graduate market report for 2015 and so I wanted to report its main highlights for those of you with limited time. First off it’s worth noting the research by High Fliers is focused on The Times Top 100 graduate employers for 2014, so it’s a snapshot of the labour market, but nonetheless an interesting one. More comprehensive data on the UK graduate labour market can be sourced through , Higher Education Statistics Agency’s Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE), the AGR and the ONS.

I must admit to getting a sense of déjà vu from the 2014 report which I blogged about here. Many of the headline messages and themes are the same – especially around job growth and graduates needing work experience. So I’ve grouped together what I think are the main findings and points of interest below.

The graduate job market is healthy with continued growth. We’ve also broken through the psychological barrier of passing pre-recession 2007 levels of recruitment.  Student numbers into HE have dipped from the heights of 2009/2010 but are still strong which means there are more vacancies for undergrads/grads to apply for.  What may be a game changer is the removing of the cap of student numbers into higher education.  It is questionable if supply will keep up with demand with such a transformational policy.

This substantial increase in graduate vacancies for 2015 takes graduate recruitment beyond the pre-recession peak in the graduate job market in 2007 and means that there will be more opportunities for this summer’s university-leavers than at any time in the last decade.

The UK’s leading employers plan to expand their graduate recruitment even further in 2015 with 8.1% more entry-level vacancies than last year, the third consecutive year that graduate vacancies have increased.

The 1st year is the new final year. The recruitment and selection pipeline gets earlier and earlier and the 2015 report echoes the same messages from the previous year. I think this is one of the main factors driving the employability agenda in HE. Careers services are savvy enough to know that if students are not ticking certain boxes their chances to get on the graduate treadmill (if that is the aim) are severely diminished. It also demonstrates why universities are investing heavily in employer engagement staffing and activities. The term “business development” is also becoming more prevalent in HE circles are institutions strive to create mutually beneficial relationships with business.

Recruiters have confirmed that 31% of this year’s entry-level positions are expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations, either through paid internships, industrial placements or vacation work.

Over four-fifths of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2014-2015 academic year – an unprecedented 13,049 paid work placements are available.

Two-thirds of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students and over half offer industrial placements for undergraduates (typically lasting 6-12 months as part of a university degree course).

Many more employers now also have work experience places for first year undergraduates – over a quarter of organisations offer paid internships and two-fifths of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences for first year students.

A change in perception and approach: Students very often gravitate towards well-known, trusted prestige brands when applying for graduate positions. Aldi may not initially be on everyone’s shopping list (sorry!) but the salary makes you sit up and take notice. If recruiters talk about the “talent” (so not necessary the subject knowledge and degree title) then surely the synergy to this is graduates must look at the “opportunity”.  I think this is an important point for careers professionals to make to students in their discussions.

The highest published graduate starting salary for 2015 is at Aldi (£42,000)

More places, more applicants. Evidence of the employability agenda shining through in HE? Seems to suggest undergraduates and graduates are making more timely and better quality applications.

A third of employers said they had received more completed graduate job applications during the early part of the recruitment season than they had last year and a similar proportion believed the quality of applications had improved too.

Together, the UK’s top employers have received 6% more graduate job applications so far, compared with the equivalent period in the 2013-2014 recruitment round.

High Fliers 2015


2 thoughts on “The graduate market in 2015

  1. This is a really helpful synopsis for those of us who haven’t gone into the original documents. You’ve provided some valuable statistics and comments that I can use with students – thank you.

  2. Pingback: The Graduate Market 2016 -creating App(eal) with students | Careerschap | The musings of a careers professional in the higher education sector.

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