where graduate jobs are available in the UK and the pay on offer

Where in the UK are you most likely to get a graduate job?

Find out about graduate employment in different parts of the UK and the rest of the world, and the graduate starting salaries on offer.

London is the country’s biggest hotspot for graduate recruitment, as you might expect, and offered just over half of all vacancies available from employers belonging to the Insitute of Student Employers (ISE) in the 2015/16 recruitment season.

According to a survey published in September 2016 by ISE, formerly known as the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), 50.4% of graduate vacancies available from its members in 2015/16 were based in the capital. This represents a rise compared with 2014/15, when 45.9% of graduate vacancies on offer were in London.

The proportion of graduate vacancies based in the south east fell in comparison with 2014/15, from 6.9% to 4.6%. Other areas where there were falls in the proportion of graduate vacancies include the south west (6.2% to 1.4%), Wales (2.3% to 1.3%), the north west (6.2% to 2.6%) and the north east (3.8% to 1.9%). There were increases in the East Midlands (3.9% to 5.1%), east of England (3% to 5.9%), West Midlands (7.7% to 8.8%), Yorkshire and Humberside (5.6% to 7.6%) and Scotland (5.1% to 5.9%).

ISE members are typically large, multinational companies that recruit large numbers of graduates, and it's important to bear in mind that there are also graduate employment opportunities with small businesses across the UK.

Graduate jobs and pay across the UK

The most recent survey from ISE, published in September 2017, found that median starting salaries for graduates are lower outside of London, at £26,260 compared to £28,000 overall. Many employers who hire graduates in London offered higher salaries to reflect the higher cost of living in the capital, with 39% of London graduate recruiters offering London weighting. Many graduate recruiters outside of London also reported that they varied their starting salaries by region, with 41% of employers surveyed taking this approach.

Here’s the breakdown of where graduate jobs with ISE members were based in 2015-16, plus the median expected starting salaries. Graduate pay in London was higher than elsewhere in the UK, at £29,500.

  • London 50.4% £29,500
  • West Midlands 8.8% £25,000
  • Yorkshire and Humberside 7.6% £25,000
  • Scotland 5.9% £26,207
  • East of England 5.9% £25,384
  • East Midlands 5.1% £25,000
  • South East 4.6% £26,000
  • North West 2.6% £25,000
  • North East 1.9% £25,000
  • South West 1.4% £25,000
  • Wales 1.3% £25,750
  • Northern Ireland 1.2% £23,500

Flexibility will increase your chances of getting hired

You will increase your chances of finding employment if you are willing to be flexible. Many big graduate recruiters have offices across the UK, and vacancies are more likely to be oversubscribed in the big cities. This means those who are happy to work in other locations, such as Reading and Southampton, are in a relatively strong position to get hired. You should also consider applying to smaller businesses, often referred to as small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), to maximise your chances of employment.