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Jobs market bleak for grads as banking weakens

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Graduates being spat out by the UK's sprawling Higher Education sector this year will face the first fall in the number of grad job vacancies since 2003.

There has been a 5.4 per cent fall in jobs for graduates since last year.

Graduates who do find jobs will find starting salaries have not increased from last year's average of £25,000 - jobs in banking and financial services are likely to pay less than last year. Those who are less lucky should consider any kind of paid work rather than travelling or returning to college.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters admitted that its previous surveys had got things badly wrong - last summer it predicted an 11.7 per cent rise in vacancies and expected a third of these jobs to come from banking and accountancy.

Carl Gilleard, chief exec of the AGR said: “Last summer our members predicted an optimistic growth in vacancies of over 11 per cent. Soon after that we saw a series of catastrophic events in the financial sector with serious consequences for many other sectors such as construction... The predicted rise in jobs in 2008 simply did not occur."

But Gilleard believes the situation now is better than it was during the dot-com crash.

He said: "The situation is certainly not as severe as it could be. We saw a sharper decrease in 2003, for example, when recruiters had a negative reaction to the dot.com crash. By and large, while no one doubts the seriousness of the current economic downturn, the picture for graduate recruitment, though worrying, could be bleaker. There are even some silver linings with growth predicted in the engineering and public sectors – both of which are likely to appeal to graduates seeking job security this year.”

A quarter of all graduate jobs are accountancy posts, 13 per cent are in financial services. But financial services firms have cut posts by 10.7 per cent, while investment banks (are there any left?) are cutting vacancies by 28 per cent.

The largest growth market is in fast moving consumer goods which expects growth of 12.9 per cent. Public sector jobs will grow three per cent, the survey predicts.

Two-thirds of employers said graduates who could not find work should look for temporary paid work rather than more qualifications - only 30 per cent of employers thought further study would help and 39.6 per cent thought a "year out" would be a good move.

The researchers talked to 245 graduate recruiters in November and December and again in January. More figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters here.

Meanwhile the flood of actual redundancies continues - RBS and UBS are to lay off 2,000 staff each, News International staff will hear how many jobs are to go later today.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show unemployment is now 6.3 per cent - up 1.1 per cent on a year ago. There are now 1.97m unemployed people in the UK- up 369,000 on last year. Of this total 1.18m are out of work men and 790,000 are unemployed women.®

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