Which profession takes on more graduates than any other? According to the most recent survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which represents many large graduate recruiters, accountancy and professional services organisations lead the way, offering just under a fifth of the total vacancies available from AGR members. In spite of the ongoing squeeze on public sector finances, the AGR’s public sector employers come second in the league table of numbers of jobs on offer by sector.
If you’ve set your sights on a graduate scheme place with a blue-chip, multinational company, you’ll be particularly interested in the findings of the AGR survey, though they are not representative of all graduate employment. The figures below reflect vacancies with AGR employers by sector in the 2011–2012 recruitment cycle, followed by the expected change to 2012–2013.
The estimated increase or decrease in hiring provides a clue to how optimistic companies in these sectors are feeling about their prospects. Tough trading conditions and a relative lack of buoyancy are typically reflected in modest recruitment plans, or a prediction that hiring will be reduced.
What proportion of graduate jobs are provided by different sectors?
Source: The AGR Graduate Recruitment Survey 2013 Winter Review
- Accountancy or professional services firm 18.0%, expected change: -2.4%
- Public sector 13.8%, expected change: 1.3%
- Retail 9.9%, expected change: 14.9%
- Banking or financial services 9.9%, expected change: -27.9%
- Engineering or industrial company 8.2%, expected change: 18.2%
- Consulting or business services firm 8.2%, expected change: 28.6%
- Investment bank or fund managers 7.9%, expected change: 7.5%
- Law firm 5.9%, expected change: -2.7%
- IT/telecommunications company 5.5%, expected change: 26.6%
- Construction company or consultancy 4.2%, expected change: 77.8%
- FMCG company 1.6%, expected change: 4.4%
- Transport or logistics company 1.5%, expected change: 41.4%
- Energy, water or utility company 1.3%, expected change: 29.6%
The AGR survey isn’t a comprehensive analysis of all graduate employment in the UK, however. For that you need to refer to the autumn 2012 edition of the annual What do graduates do? report, which reveals that six months after graduation, 8.2% of 2011 graduates were employed as business and financial professionals and associate professionals – a category that includes chartered and certified accountants. However, nearly twice as many graduates – 14.7% – were working as retail, catering, waiting and bar staff, and more graduates were employed in this area than in any other.
Overall, according to the report, which is a comprehensive snapshot of graduate employment based on the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, 62% of 2011 graduates were employed six months later, while 13% were in further study, 9% were unemployed and the rest were either working while continuing to study or involved in other activities.
Graduates who were in work were employed in the following areas:
- 14.7% retail, catering, waiting and bar staff
- 13.4% health professionals and associate professionals
- 12.6% other occupations, a category that includes nursery nurses, assistant nurses, the armed forces and police officers
- 8.7% commercial, industrial and public sector managers. This includes production managers in manufacturing, officers in the armed forces, general managers and administrators in national and local government, civil service executive officers and financial institution and office managers.
- 8.2% business and financial professionals and associate professionals. Includes chartered and certified accountants, actuaries, management consultants, investment analysts and underwriters
- 6.6% arts, design, culture, media and sports professionals. Includes journalists, writers, and graphic and web designers
- 6.5% other clerical and secretarial occupations. Includes administrative and clerical officers in the Civil Service and local government, secretaries and personal assistants, legal secretaries and market research interviewers
- 6.0% education professionals
- 5.3% marketing, sales and advertising professionals
- 4.5% other professionals, associate professionals and technical occupations. This wide-ranging category includes architects, town planners, surveyors, librarians, archivists and curators, aircraft pilots, flight engineers and navigators, environmental health officers, health and safety officers and trading standards inspectors
- 4.1% social & welfare professionals. Includes social workers, probation officers and clinical and educational psychologists
- 3.0% information technology professionals. Includes software engineers and computer analysts and programmers
- 3.0% engineering professionals
- 1.6% numerical clerks and cashiers. Includes book-keepers and other financial clerks
- 0.9% scientific research, analysis and development professionals
- 0.7% legal professionals
- 0.3% unknown occupations
It’s no secret that the employment market for graduates has been particularly competitive and difficult in recent years. If you want to get into one of the popular professions and make a start on your career sooner rather than later, use our specialist careers advice to give yourself the best chance.
The earlier you can focus on getting suitable work experience, the better. You’ll also be in a much stronger position if you get a 2.1 degree or higher, as many employers, rightly or wrongly, use this as a criteria for graduate applicants.