The graduate jobs market has recovered with vacancies now 20 percent higher than pre-pandemic according to an independent report.

The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) which is a not-for-profit that looked at the UK’s largest graduate employers looked at the pandemic’s impact on the graduate labour market.

 Companies reported that job vacancies for graduates will increase by more than a fifth (22%) in 2022 compared to 2021.   

Sectors with the biggest jobs growth this year are the built environment (48% growth), energy, engineering and industry (41% growth), and health and pharmaceuticals (37% growth).   

The charity and public sector is the only industry to reduce the number of graduate jobs in 2022. However, even with the 11 percent reduction in vacancies this year, the sector is above pre-pandemic levels.  

ISE’s Vacancy Survey shows. For example, compared to 2019, graduate vacancies have risen by 67% in the built environment, 42 percent in digital and IT, and 24 percent in health and pharmaceuticals.  

 All sectors have returned to pre-pandemic levels of hiring with the exception of jobs in retail and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). While this sector is currently recruiting 3 percent fewer graduates than in 2019, it has increased vacancies by 20 percent from 2021 to 2022.   

Meanwhile, school leaver jobs in retail and FMCG have increased by 55 percent since last year.  

Overall school and college leaver vacancies did not dip during the pandemic and have grown by 17 percent compared to 2021. 

The survey says there is evidence that recruitment has returned to a student-driven market. While competition for graduate jobs reached a record high last year (2021), nearly half (48%) of graduate employers reported that they had received fewer applicants than this time last year.

It believes this is due to more graduate vacancies and difficulties engaging students with online careers events now they have returned to campus.  

Concerningly for employers, nearly one in five (18%) said the quality of graduate applicants had dropped.   

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of ISE, said this is the first time it’s seen hiring back to pre-pandemic levels: “It demonstrates business confidence and how much employers continue to value a degree.  This is great news for those job hunting. The hike in vacancies means a return to a student-driven market. The graduate labour market is and always has been competitive. While students should feel confident about their prospects, they need to apply themselves rigorously to their job search and make every application count.”