British IT Grads Harder Hit by Downturn

When it comes to landing their first job UK IT grads 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 grads face the stiffest odds of all to get a job in their chosen sector—with vacancies dropping 44.5 per cent this year, amounting to hundreds of fewer tech posts up for grabs.

However those budding techies that 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 per cent) of employers expect little change in vacancy levels next year, while 11 per cent think there is worse still to come.

Carl Gilleard, CEO 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 per cent 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 per cent of vacancies.

Unsurprisingly almost all (91.9 per cent) of 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 (BT), Google (GOOG), IBM (IBM ) and Microsoft (MSFT).

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 per cent) 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 per cent of the total.

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