School leavers are to benefit from more opportunities as the graduate recruitment market picks up, a new survey reveals.
Almost three-quarters of the firms questioned by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) said they were hiring more school leavers.
The survey predicts an 11.9 per cent increase in vacancies for the coming recruitment round, following a rise of 4.3 per cent last year as the economic recovery continues.
As competition for graduate roles becomes more fierce, many recruiters are now engaging with school leavers.
Some 72.7 per cent of AGR members plan to offer school leaver recruitment programmes in 2014-15, rising from 54.7 per cent in 2012-13.
The figures indicate increased employer activity and reflect a change of approach that incorporates graduate recruitment into an emerging talent strategy, the AGR stated.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, said: "More employers engaging with the schools market is a good thing. It means employers are thinking more holistically about their talent strategies. It also means a greater variety of opportunities for young people."
In 2014, the largest proportion of unfilled graduate vacancies was in the IT and telecommunications sector, where 11.8 per cent of graduate vacancies remained unfilled.
The reasons behind this were varied - some of the employers questioned reported students turning down offers, while others cited a lack of the relevant skills among candidates.
Another important finding of the survey was the importance of work experience for prospective employees.
Over a quarter (26.5 per cent) of graduate roles in 2013-14 were filled by people who had previously worked for the same employer, for example through an internship or placement.
"Candidates that 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," Mr Isherwood said.
IT and telecoms (26.9 per cent), and the public sector (23 per cent) were among the sectors that predict a growth in vacancies from 2014 to 2015. Accountancy and professional services (22.2 per cent) and the public sector (13.3 per cent) were the largest recruitment areas.
Posted by Tim Colman