AGCAS Graduate Labour Market Survey – Research Report

The graduate labour market in the academic year 2016/17 remained buoyant according to the heads of AGCAS member careers services who participated in the 2017 AGCAS Graduate Labour Market Survey. These are data driven observations based around vacancies and on-campus employer engagement, which when put together help to build up a strong picture of the current graduate labour market.

Published annually, the latest report shows that recruitment activities organised by careers services remained largely stable, with new patterns of employer and student engagement emerging.

Nearly three quarters of careers services are now running targeted initiatives for widening participation (WP) students. Over two thirds of heads observed an increase in students' engagement with these initiatives. Data driven, evidence-based approaches are helping universities to better understand their students’ career readiness and to target resources and activities accordingly. This can help all students and be particularly useful in enhancing engagement with and provision for disadvantaged groups.

There was also an increase in the number of placement and/or internship opportunities available to students, with over three quarters of careers services now managing placement and internship initiatives to help students gain work experience. Heads also observed that more first and second year students were attending careers fairs for placements and internships.

Similar to heads' observations in the previous year's survey, vacancies within IT and STEM increased, whilst vacancies within the public, legal and finance sectors declined.

Recruiters and employers are once again increasing engagement with careers services. Heads reported an increased interest from employers in holding bespoke recruitment activities coupled with an increase in employers proactively contacting careers services. High impact awards have further encouraged employers to contact universities to source the best talent.

The continuing trend towards engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises is evident from the survey and is reflective of a more diverse labour market. This is helping smaller firms to recruit, fuelling the number of internships and placements available to students and has, in turn, helped more graduates enter professional-level jobs.

More than half of heads reported that their services had been involved in developing degree apprenticeship programmes, a significant increase compared to the previous year. Degree apprenticeships are still in the early stages of development at many universities. However, service involvement in the development of degree apprenticeships appears more clear-cut than in the previous year.