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IT graduate jobs hit hardest by recession

A new report reveals that graduate jobs in the IT sector have been affected far worse than other industries, with vacancies dropping 44.5 percent this year
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

When it comes to landing their first job, UK IT graduates are facing a tougher time than peers who took other subjects, as the recession continues to bite.

While graduate jobs are thinner on the ground than last year in the vast majority of industries — with one in four vacancies vanishing — the latest bi-annual report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) reveals jobs in the IT sector have been hit far worse, almost halving since 2008.

The report reveals IT graduates face the stiffest odds of all to get a job in their chosen sector, with vacancies dropping 44.5 percent this year, amounting to hundreds of fewer tech posts up for grabs.

However, those budding techies who are able to secure a job are likely to be at the high end when it comes to pay packet, enjoying a median starting salary of £28k, according to the report.

Cuts in vacancy levels have translated into much greater competition for graduates in all sectors this year, with nearly half of all employers receiving more than 50 applications for every job. Meanwhile, more than half (53.4 percent) of employers expect little change in vacancy levels next year, while 11 percent think there is worse still to come.

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said in a statement: "I wish we had better news to announce today but we cannot hide from the fact that dramatic vacancy cuts will make the job search very tough for graduates both this year and probably next year too."

IT jobs comprised just 1.1 percent of the vacancies offered, according to the report, with only insurance having fewer slots available. The largest proportion of vacancies was in the accountancy and professional-services sector, accounting for 24.4 percent of vacancies.

Unsurprisingly, almost all (91.9 percent) employers are expecting to fill all their graduate vacancies this year.

The research, which was conducted between May and June 2009, is based on the responses of 226 graduate recruiters in the UK across 15 sectors which will employ a total of 12,650 graduates this year. IT employers participating in the research include BT, Google, IBM and Microsoft.

In related news, a report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), looking at employment rates among last year's higher education leavers with known destinations, reveals computer-science graduates have the highest rates of unemployment (14 percent) of all subject areas.

Last year 11,125 students graduated in computer science out of a total graduate pool of 262,440, according to Hesa, meaning IT graduates made up 4.2 percent of the total.

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