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.
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.