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One in four graduates lands job after work experience, survey finds

Organising work experience or an internship with an employer you are interested in is an increasingly crucial part of the process of getting the graduate job you want, according to a survey published this week by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). Just over a quarter (26.5%) of graduate roles on offer from AGR members in the 2013/14 recruitment cycle went to applicants who had previously worked for the organisation, for example through an internship or work experience placement.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, said, ‘The importance of work experience cannot be stressed to students enough. Candidates who understand the world of work, understand their own skills and can translate that into a compelling proposition are much more likely to be successful in the jobs market.’

Hotspots for graduate job growth

The winter edition of the twice-yearly AGR survey of its members predicts that the number of graduate vacancies available overall will increase by 11.9% over the coming year, an expansion that suggests a confident and optimistic outlook on the part of AGR members as a result of the growth of the UK economy. The most dramatic increases are expected in IT and telecommunications (26.9%), the public sector (23.0%), construction (22.1%) and engineering (19.7%). AGR members include many large graduate recruiters and the findings of the survey are not representative of all UK employers, but provide a useful snapshot of general trends.

Just under half (44.8%) of the employers surveyed had unfilled vacancies at the end of the 2013/14 recruitment cycle, with a particularly marked shortfall in the IT and telecommunications sector where 11.8% of graduate roles were unfilled. This shortfall is particularly striking given the high volume of applications, with an average of just under 75 applications received for each graduate role where recruitment was successful.

Employers put their difficulties in filling some roles down to a combination of factors, including an increase in job offers being turned down relatively late in the recruitment cycle and increased competition for candidates with the right skills.

School leaver programmes are also on the up

The survey also found a steady growth in the proportion of graduate recruiters planning to offer school leaver programmes, up to 72.7% in 2014/15 from 54.7% in 2012/13. Overall, employers are expanding their recruitment of school leavers while also taking on more graduates, suggesting that they regard school leaver recruitment as complementary to their graduate recruitment rather than as a replacement.

Just over a fifth (21.7%) of employers who took part in the survey plan to offer higher apprenticeships this year, while 13.6% plan to offer a sponsored or incorporated degree programme and 11.6% intend to offer a school leaver training programme leading to a professional qualification.

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