This year's influx of graduates are likely to have fewer job opportunities and be paid less than their predecessors, according to a new report from Adzuna.
The job site said the number of adverts for graduate jobs dropped 8% in April, compared with April 2015. This dip comes as cautious employers stall hiring across the UK, with the number of total advertised vacancies falling 0.3% over the year.
Concerns about the ongoing impact of last month’s new National Living Wage and the upcoming EU Referendum could be responsible for this reduction in new roles. In a further sign of a jobs market slowdown, previous employment improvements, including in vacancy numbers and salaries, have halted.
Graduate pay also took a hit in April, with the average advertised entry-level salary falling to £23,309 – the lowest amount on offer since £22,849 in October 2013. This 30-month low comes alongside a 3.0% monthly drop from £23,941 in March.
April has also seen the UK starting pay drop to £33,462, the lowest on offer for four months, since £33,332 in December 2015. On a monthly basis, average advertised salaries fell 1.0% from £33,815 in March – a dip echoed by graduate starting salaries.
Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “Graduates are gearing up for their future careers. In university libraries across the UK, students are filling in the job forms and crossing their fingers. But they might need more than luck this summer. Graduate vacancies are falling and new joiners are facing one of the toughest job markets in recent times.
“Many graduates may feel like it’s a rough deal right now. Graduate pay has fallen drastically from 2013 levels, and talks of rising tuition fee hikes next year will only add to this feeling. Unfortunately, fewer roles does inevitably mean more competition to find a first job – but graduates may have the upper hand in the long-term. Many of these schemes contain a long-term investment in development and fast-tracking to managerial positions. So graduates may yet have the last laugh.”
Cambridge and Oxford are leading the way as the best places for new graduates to find work. In Cambridge, April saw just 0.08 jobseekers per vacancy, the equivalent of 8 jobseekers for every 100 vacancies. Oxford saw 12 jobseekers for every 100 vacancies (0.12) – creating a South East hiring stronghold.
Meanwhile, job competition has improved in April, reducing to 0.54 jobseekers per vacancy, from 0.56 the previous month. This has eased 29.9% from the 0.77 jobseekers per vacancy rate in April 2015. Further to this, 41 out of 56 UK cities currently have more positions available than jobseekers.
Mr Monro added: “Graduates keep gravitating towards the bright lights of London. The capital has always held a charm for those fresh out of university and filled with ambition. But sometimes moving to the capital isn’t the wisest choice.
“London has many jobs and is a hub for many industries. But competition is getting tougher in the capital and graduates may be missing out on other fantastic opportunities. Cities like Cambridge and Oxford offer a great alternative – less competition and easy access to London. Start-up companies are branching out from the capital and this is the adventurous approach graduates should adopt too.”