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Civils employers report 130 applications per graduate job

Civil engineering students graduating this summer face a massive fight for jobs with employers reporting an average of 130 applications per vacancy.


The number of students applying for jobs with companies such as Aecom, Amey, Costain, URS Scott Wilson and Bam Nuttall has soared from an average of 48 per vacancy this time last year. The number of applicants for civils jobs is much higher than the average across the board, which now stands at 83.

The figures are revealed in the Association of Graduate Recruiter’s Graduate Recruitment Survey 2011 Summer Review, published this week. It surveyed 202 firms across all sectors, including 14 leading civil engineering contractors and consultants.

The survey found that civils contractors and consultants were expecting a 61% drop in vacancies this year, the second biggest drop across all sectors surveyed. Only transport and logistics firms were expecting a bigger fall.

Graduating students that do find work will get improved starting salaries, the survey suggests. Construction companies and consultants said they expected starting salaries to be up 1.1% to a median of £23,250 − although this remains the lowest median salary of all sectors.

Overall, the survey shows that graduate vacancies are predicted to increase by 2.6% this year.  This follows an increase of 8.9% in 2010, and signals sustained recovery of the graduate recruitment market.

The average starting salary has also increased by 2% to £25,500, the first increase since 2008.

AGR chief executive Carl Gilleard said graduates needed to plan carefully their applications.

“Recruiters have developed a variety of methods for dealing with all the applications, such as online testing and assessment centres,” he said.

“My advice for graduates is to make sure you reflect on what you have learnt – both at university and in an extra-curricular capacity – and be able to articulate it in your applications and at interviews; think about what transferrable skills you might’ve gained and how you’d apply your knowledge and experience to different situations. If you are able to get into that mode of thinking, you will be immediately more attractive to employers.”

The AGR is the leading voice of graduate recruiters. The survey is based on the responses of 202 AGR members in the UK across 20 sectors which will provide an estimated 21,507 graduate vacancies in 2011. The research was carried out by education research specialists CFE between April and May 2011.

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Readers' comments (7)

Are you graduating this year? What is your experience of the jobs market? Share with us your thoughts.

  • Upon graduating this year me and my fellow MEng civil engineer class mates have all secured jobs. We have nearly all completed a placement year putting us nearer the top of the pile, but I do wonder who comes up with these stats. It aint that bad!

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  • Shout out to my fans, you know who you are!

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  • The increase in job applications this year has happened across the board. Last autumn recruiters were complaining that while applications were up standards were down-quality not quantity!

    I agree with Benjamin, things aren't as bad as the numbers suggest.

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  • I'm glad a there is a positive feeling in the jobs market but I just wanted to ask a few questions:

    1) Are these jobs you are getting in the UK?

    2) If they are, were you able to choose where in the UK you work?

    3) Are the salaries on par with your expectations?

    Glad things are getting better but I just have a suspicion that it is more about grads bending over backwards to secure any job, anywhere.

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  • I have found that flexibility in where you work and indeed in which area of engineering is key during a recession to anyone (including grads).

    Like Benjamin, I did a placement during my university years, which was of great help during my grad job hunt. These figures although high, are believable.

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  • I believe that the number of applicants for each job is high. However with online recruitment sites emailing every interested party in every job that includes the word engineer regardless of the field and online applications that can be as simple as attaching a CV to an email.
    The number of applicants that are suitable for the job is not at this headline figure of 83

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  • "Construction companies and consultants said they expected starting salaries to be up 1.1% to a median of £23,250 - although this remains the lowest median salary of all sectors."

    Says it all about the standing of engineers in this country. With £9,000 a year university tuition it will be the duty of responsible parents to make sure their offsprings do not rack up debts of >£36,000 for 4-year Meng courses and sleepwalk into jobs that pay the least of all sectors.

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