The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers indicates graduate job prospects remain optimistic


By Guy Taylor, Investigations Correspondent

The newest edition of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers reveals the best graduate employers, gives details of graduate vacancies and includes an assessment of how the job market has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the current climate, it would be understandable for graduates to expect a huge drop in employment opportunities post university. 1/5thof employers have stopped making job offers for vacancies in the Autumn of 2020, whilst 2/5ths have warned that ‘they are likely to recruit fewer university leavers over the next twelve months.’

Additionally, graduate recruitment is forecast to fall in seven industries. Most notably, the 'Big Four’ accounting and professional service firms, several major banks and financial institutions, and a number of high street retailers, are predicting the largest reduction in graduate jobs over the next year.

However, according to this year's edition of the Times 100 Graduate Employers ‘there continues to be a wide range of entry-level opportunities' at the organisations featured in the annual guide.

A quarter of top employers in the UK hope to hire more graduates in 2021, and 1/3 are confident they will match their previous intake. Moreover, the average graduate starting salary has remained the same, at £30,000.

In total, the top 100 graduate employers are estimating there will be up to 20,500 graduate vacancies in the autumn of 2021. This is 3 per cent lower than the number of leavers recruited in 2020.

Graduate employment prospects, therefore, are still promising.

The rankings this year reveal the Civil Service to be the UK’s ‘number one graduate employer for the second year running,’ with 8.1 per cent of students voting for the institution. The ‘Big four’ accounting firm PwC, finished second.

Notably, the NHS finished in 4th, its highest-ranking position ever. The BBC and JP Morgan remained the same, finishing in 9thand 10th, respectively. Whilst Google and KPMG both fell in the rankings, with the former in 6thand the latter in 7th.

Big changes in this year’s rankings, include law firms DLA Piper and White and Case, both rose 32 positions. Of the eight new entries, Channel 4 finished the highest in 77th place. Several companies fell out of the top 100, these include Santander, Nestlé, Virgin Media, BDO, Johnson and Johnson, Irwin Mitchell, and Norton Rose Fullbright.

So where are the most promising areas for graduates this year? The largest vacancies are in the public sector, with 5200 entry-level positions available. Furthermore, ‘Eight out of twelve government departments and other public sector organisations in the Top 100 are planning to expand into the Top 100 in future.’

A quarter of top employers in the UK hope to hire more graduates in 2021, and 1/3 are confident they will match their previous intake.

The organisation with ‘the biggest graduate recruitment target,’ within the edition is Teach First. This teaching programme, targeting low income schools and communities has 1,750 places. Other ‘substantial individual graduate recruiters include the accounting and professional services firms PwC, Deloitte and the Civil Service Fast Stream.’ The former has 1,100 vacances whilst the others have 1,000.

The largest graduate salary in the edition is Newton, a consulting firm, which offers up to £50,000 in 2021.

The Coronavirus pandemic has also opened many opportunities for graduate employment. For example, the edition highlights the experiences of one Leeds graduate who worked alongside eight others at the Nightingale hospital in London. Another worked at a Coronavirus testing centre, through AstraZeneca.

Overall, amidst an irrefutably difficult period for the country in most sectors, there can still be significant optimism amongst graduates looking for employment.

You can read the digital edition of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers here.

Featured Image: The Times

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