By Daniel Hunter

Today’s graduates have reason to feel positive about the jobs market as new figures from reveal employment opportunities and starting salaries have grown significantly compared with last year.

The number of job vacancies in the second quarter of 2015 is up 77% compared to the same time in 2014 and 7% on first three months of the year. The average annual salary stands at £26,000, 2% above the current rate of inflation.

According to the Job Index, the industries boasting the highest annual employment growth for graduates are motoring and automotive (+112%) and construction and property (+78%). Twenty-five of the 37 sectors analysed have experienced annual growth of 12% or more.

The sectors advertising the most graduate opportunities are recruitment consultancy, sales, education, technology and marketing & PR. Graduates looking to become qualified accountants or work in financial services have the highest earning power, with annual average starting salaries close to hitting £40,000. Graduate engineers (£31,344) and developers (£28,940) can also look forward to earning a higher than average salary in their first year post university.

The South East of England is the region of the UK with the highest density of graduate vacancies. Graduates working there can look forward to taking home an average salary of £26,964. The West Midlands, East Midlands and North West have shown annual jobs growth of 58%, 45% and 25% respectively.

With hefty student loans to pay, this year’s graduates expect to earn £25,557 per annum compared to £23,857 last year. What’s more, a number of graduates are looking to continue their studies whilst earning, as the apprenticeship sector has attracted 85% more applications from graduates in June 2015 compared to the same time last year.

James Reed, Chairman of “For the thousands of graduates entering the job market for the first time, prospects look bright this year with more job opportunities and more attractive pay packages. Surprisingly, a notable feature of the latest Reed Job Index points towards a surge in graduate applications for advertised apprenticeships, which are typically seen to be an alternative to university.

"For those looking to earn and learn at the same time, apprenticeships are clearly a practical and valuable route gaining work experience and learning new skills. For employers operating in sectors particularly affected by skills shortages, such as engineering, technology and manufacturing, they are also an effective route to attracting top talent and creating a skilled, home grown workforce.”