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Boost for graduates as civils jobs market to soar by 32%

Civil engineering employers are expecting to see graduate vacancies soar by a third this year, according to figures published this week by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The AGR found that construction companies and consultants are expecting to bounce back this year, with a 32% increase in graduate intake and a 9% increase in average salaries.

Last summer the AGR reported that the construction sector had slashed graduate vacancies by 41% (NCE 9 July 2009).

The AGR’s figures are based on a survey of 214 blue chip employers, which between them took on 19,247 graduates in 2009.

The construction firms surveyed include Aecom, Amey, Arup, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bam Construction, Bam Nuttall, Bovis Lend Lease, Carillion, Davis Langdon, EC Harris, Mott MacDonald, Mouchel, Network Rail, Scott Wilson, Skanksa and VT Group.

Ups and downs

Overall, the AGR found that the 9% decrease in graduate vacancies observed in 2009 appears set to continue with a 1.6% drop expected in 2010.

The largest predicted increase between 2009 and 2010 is for oil companies, with a 49.7% boost in intake, and consulting or business service firms, with a 47.2% upturn.

Energy, water and utilities firms predict a 5.3% increase. AGR companies also predict that overall there will be no change in the median starting salary of £25,000 for graduates.

Construction companies and consultancies remained amongst the worst payers in 2009 with a median graduate starting salary of £23,000, but are the predicting the biggest increase of 8.7% this year.

Graduate vacancies 2010

The sector is the only one to increase its salary for a second consecutive year. By career area, civil engineering also remains a relatively poor payer, with a median salary of £24,250.

“Our survey suggests that the graduate employment market is starting to normalise and to begin the process of recovery,” said AGR chief executive Carl Gilleard.

But the picture for salaries is less positive from the graduates’ perspective.

“This could not have come at a worse time for the current crop of graduates who are the first to enter the workplace with the daunting task of paying off three years of tuition fees ahead of them.”

The survey also revealed that more than three quarters of graduates recruited to contractors and consultants were male. Just 23.4% were female. Men formed the majority of all graduates recruited to AGR employers in 2009 in all sectors with the exception of law firms.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Whilst it is very encouraging to see employers potentially starting to recruit graduates I would be interested to know how many fully qualified chartered engineers that have been made redundant over the past two years have managed to find employment again within the industry. Is this the case of employers shedding their well paid highly qualified and experienced staff for the less expensive option of employing new graduates?

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  • William's comment are valid and I would expand this to the number of graduates that were laid off by some of the "blue chip" companies during the downturn. Are these graduates going to be re-recruited or left without a future in the industry. It is our responsibility as an profession to ensure these young people are not lost,

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  • amazing --every day we hear of layoffs yet now we have a boom in employment prospects. What ever happened to consistency?

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  • To back up Ricahrd Dobell's point about the low number of graduate appointments in 2009 affecting the statistic, using numbers from the article:

    2009 construction graduate places were 41% lower than 2008, so 59% of 2008 values.
    A 32% rise in vacancies in 2010 compared to 2009 is therefore 59*1.32=78% of 2008 values.

    So construction graduate places are still relatively low in 2010.

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  • brian mooney

    I agree with John above.
    Year on year we are bombarded with figures both plus and negative for the civils indutry. There does not seem to be any consistencey, with figures being manipulated to show whatever the current regime wishes us to swallow.
    In recent times with the country / world in a downturn and redundancies at an all time high this inflated figure is almost an insult. It wasn't so long ago that the suggestion in the press was that graduates may require to work for free during this downturn to show their willingness to continue working and training.
    If you speak to any final year students or graduates within the industry their biggest worry is not salary or gaining charter status but "is there going to be a job for them" or "will they retain the position they have".
    With the state of the banking industry and other such fortune tellers through predicting future events I think it is safe to say that we should all wait to see what actually happens in the sector before breaking out the bubbly.

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  • I'd be holding that bubbly back for a while yet. Package reductions will have to be resinstated first and until there is some confidence in the market, that'll be done in stages so it's likely to be a couple of years before we're earning the same as we were 12 months ago!!

    If a graduate suddenly appeared in our section I'd be in a room questioning my manager within 5 mins about getting the reductions and overtime reinstated as well as pay rise if the graduate salary is to increase by 8.7% this year!!

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