Who'd be a 2009 graduate? Earlier this month, Simon Culhane, chief executive of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, hit the headlines when he suggested that today's graduates were destined for coffee-shop jobs.
But, says Anne-Marie Martin, director of the Careers Group at London University, graduate employers are still recruiting. "It's true to say that numbers are certainly lower than they were two years ago," she says, "but they are certainly more than they were last year."
Graduates are having to be a bit more picky about where they look. "You might have to work in Uxbridge rather than London, for example," says Martin, "unless you're in the top 1 per cent, but if you're a normal graduate you might have to think more broadly about what you can do." Martin sees no real sector differences. "All sectors are still recruiting," she says, "nobody's saying, 'don't bother looking for jobs in any particular area'". It looks as though 2009 graduates will have it worse than this year's, she thinks.
In February, the Association of Graduate Recruiters published the winter edition of its bi-annual survey. It said that graduate vacancies in 2009 fell by 8.9 per cent rather than the 24.9 per cent predicted, suggesting that graduate recruitment is emerging from the recession relatively unscathed.
The report predicted more graduate vacancies in oil companies and consulting. Moreover, 51 per cent of organisations expect to have more vacancies this year than last and only 31 per cent are reporting a decrease compared with 46 per cent last year.
Elsewhere, a report from information technology service provider Modis International says that 66 per cent of IT companies expect growth in the coming months. "Like many areas of the economy, IT is seeing a tentative but definite recovery – our own research showed about a third of IT employers expect an upturn in their business this year," says Jim Albert, the managing director. This is having a knock-on effect on the graduate recruitment market. "We're seeing an increased appetite among employers for graduates for the first time in three years and the focus is on graduates with energy, a great work ethic and long-term potential," he says.
Another healthy area is engineering. The appliance manufacturer Dyson has just announced a recruitment drive for 22 engineers. Senior design engineer Peter Gammack says that the company has hired 20 new engineers over the last three to four months, half of them straight from university.
The founder James Dyson has vocally encouraged an expansion of internships at Dyson's research and development base and funds the annual James Dyson design award – a competition which awards talent from university students and recent graduates.
Jude Pullen is a design engineer with Dyson, having worked there since last year. He studied product design at Glasgow University before winning the James Dyson award. "It certainly meant that my CV got a second look," he says.
Pullen did internships and applied for design grants while he was studying and says this gave him the edge. "I sent hundreds of begging letters over the years," he says.
Hospitality and retail are recruiting, too. Travelodge has announced the opening of 10 new properties from late 2010, creating 300 jobs in the UK. Elsewhere, Aldi is promoting its retail placement programme for undergraduates interested in retail. Tesco has two new graduate schemes, Tesco Telecoms and Environmental Engineering, increasing its number of schemes from 15 to 17.
In the public sector, the National Audit Office is actively recruiting on its chartered accountant graduate scheme and there has been a heavy media drive from government to recruit social workers. The Training and Development Agency earlier this year launched a major recruitment drive with graduate Train To Teach events across the country, showing that one area relatively unaffected by the downturn was school teaching.
So who'd be a graduate jobseeker in 2010? As Anne-Marie Martin says, the opportunities are there for graduates: you just have to cast your net wider.Reuse content