Starting salaries for graduates are predicted to rise by 4.8% to an average of £22,000 in 2005, the biggest predicted increase for five years.
First-jobbers will also have the pick of vacancies after two successive years witnessed a fall in the number of openings; in 2002 and 2003 employers cut their recruitment by 6.5% and 3.5% respectively.
Openings are expected to rise by 14.5% this year.
The accountancy profession is seeing the biggest growth with both salary and vacancy numbers swelling.
Three sectors – consulting firms, investment banks or fund managers and law firms have, however, left their starting salaries unchanged for four consecutive recruitment seasons.
Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, commented: “Predicted salary increases of 4.8% are very generous and indicate that employers continue to recognise the value that top graduates bring to businesses. It also suggests that among recruiters competition for the best graduates is intensifying.
Despite the good news, Gilleard expressed concern that employers are still reporting recruitment difficulties:
“All the more surprising then, that some employers should find that they are not receiving as many high quality applications as they need to fill their increased recruitment targets. The report should act as a wake-up call to the graduate Class of 2005. They should seriously consider taking advantage of the buoyant graduate vacancy market now!”
The Association of Graduate Recruiters survey 2005 collated members intentions during December 2004 and January 2005.