Students who graduate from university this summer are warned today that their chances of getting a job have virtually disappeared already.
Vacancies for graduates have fallen by 17 per cent since last summer, cutting jobs on offer by thousands, and most vacancies for this year have already been filled according to a survey of the top 100 graduate recruiters published this morning.
The biggest decline has been in investment banking, where jobs on offer have been reduced by 47 per cent year on year, while retailing is down 26 per cent and accountancy by 15 per cent. Over a two-year period the number of media jobs on offer has been cut by 32 per cent. The only employment area where graduate vacancies have increased noticeably are the public services – up 51 per cent over the past two years – and the armed services, which have seen a 17 per cent increase.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, which conducts the annual graduate recruitment survey, said: "These swingeing cuts in graduates at Britain's best-known and most sought-after employers are very bad news for anyone leaving university this summer. Not only have vacancies been reduced substantially for those finishing university in 2009 but it is now clear that many of last year's entry-level jobs did not materialise either.
"There is understandable panic on campus that this is shaping up to be one of the worst years in two decades to graduate. For those who have yet to begin job hunting, the chances of landing a last-minute place on a graduate programme now seem very slim."
Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said: "Given the high levels of debt currently being accrued by students because of fees, these figures will be extremely worrying for those who are preparing to graduate in 2009. But it isn't just graduate jobs which are at risk from the credit crunch. Many students have to work part-time to finance their studies and we may see more of them having to drop out if they lose these jobs."
The only bright spot on the horizon is that those graduates who have found a job are likely to be earning more than in previous years as the annual starting salary for a graduate has risen by 6 per cent – up £1,500 to £27,000.
Phil Willis, the Liberal Democrat chairman of the Commons select committee which monitors universities, said: "You would hope that the public sector would at least try to maintain employment and increase it where necessary in order to provide opportunities. This is a golden opportunity to look at our graduate workforce and see how we can re-skill them to take advantage of the economic upturn when it comes."
The student: 'I know a lot of people who plan to travel'
The third-year Birmingham University student is not expecting to look for a full-time job when she finishes university this summer.
Charlotte Jarvis, 21, from Oxford, who is studying European politics, society and economics, is planning to take up a four-month placement teaching at a Spanish school and do some travelling before seeking out full-time employment in the UK.
"I've applied for a couple of jobs but I'd rather get more experience before I take a full-time job because of the economic situation," she said. "I want to get a job but it's difficult. I know a lot of people who are planning to travel or go on to do post-graduate work."Reuse content