Fewer jobs available for UK graduates

The number of jobs on offer for new graduates in the UK has shrunk by 8% in a year, according to a survey of more than 200 employers.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) said on Friday that its annual survey showed that there were 19,732 positions to fill for 2016 compared to 21,427 last year.

This comes after four years of sustained growth in the graduate recruitment market. Last year the number of graduate jobs had increased by 13% year-on-year.

The AGR noted that for some employers the decrease in graduate vacancies has been mitigated by an increase in apprenticeships, but not enough to make up for the shortfall.

Among graduate employers, there were 13% more apprenticeships available this year. However, more than one in ten employers said they were ?repackaging? some graduate roles as higher apprenticeships due to the Apprenticeship Levy.

Overall, the combined number of vacancies for graduate jobs and apprenticeships has fallen by 3% compared to last year. Vacancies in construction, retail and engineering showed the biggest decrease.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, commented: ?The labour market for young people is shrinking for the first time since the financial crisis, but the composition of the market is also changing as employers invest more in school leaver programmes and apprenticeships.

?The uncertainty of Brexit is the single biggest challenge facing recruiters in the year ahead. Competition for skills and the looming Apprenticeship Levy are also significant concerns.

?While there remain thousands of vacancies available for university graduates, school leavers will find many more different options open to them for high quality jobs.?

A Department for Education spokesman told BBC News that graduates continued to have ?stronger employment outcomes, earning on average ?9,500 a year more than non-graduates?.

Last year most graduates, 93.9%, were in employment or further study and this figure has shown a consistent increase over the last four years, the spokesman added.