When you first start university, graduation may just seem like a distant notion, but as your final year approaches it comes sharply into focus. Graduation is an exciting time for students but the prospect of it can also be a little daunting. What will you do when you graduate? Where will you live? Will you be able to find a job?
Thankfully the last of these questions is now much easier to answer than it has been at any point in the last decade, with the High Fliers study of the 2015 graduate market projecting that recruitment will hit its highest level for a decade.
Preparing for success
The news doesn’t mean that students can rest easy and expect to walk into a job the moment they leave campus though. According to graduate recruiters, work placements are one key way to securing a job, with one third of graduate jobs likely to be offered to students who have been on placement. Many of these work experience programmes are now paid and some four fifths of the main graduate recruiters in the UK have programmes available, totalling a record 13,049 in all.
A separate High Fliers study also indicated that students need to start thinking about their future careers at a much earlier stage than they used to, as competition from their peers for the best jobs heats up. In the 2013/14 academic year, the study of some 18,000 finalists found that 43% had already made job applications by the end of October, compared to 31% just 5 years before.
Some companies are now even offering work placements to first-year undergraduates, meaning that students need to be thinking about their career aspirations the moment they start university, rather than as their finals approach.
In fact, research by the Sutton Trust shows that if the goal upon leaving university is a high paying career, students actually need to think it through before applying for a university place, as the uni they pick, as well as the course, will have a profound impact on their salary after graduation.
Those graduating with degrees in medicine, technology, engineering, economics and computer science tend to command the highest salaries in the years after leaving university. Engineering and technology graduates, for example, find themselves on starting salaries 55% (or £8,800) higher than design and creative arts graduates 6 months after graduation.
Start as you mean to go on
As well as having to think through their career options and apply for jobs earlier, students are also working harder at the application process itself applying for a record 7.5 jobs each, on average. Eri Cuanalo, CEO of cutting edge student accommodation provider Collegiate, comments,
“It’s definitely a more competitive environment for graduates today when it comes to gaining their first job, but there is also an increased number of jobs available. It’s a really healthy looking market for graduates, all things considered.”
“It’s about giving students something to aspire to. They can experience luxurious living as part of their university life and when they leave think, ‘Now, an apartment like that is something worth working hard for.’ It’s a good grounding.”