International employer branding specialist Universum has released its ‘global talent attraction index’ for 2011 and, for the third year running, Google has proved to be the most attractive employer for both business and engineering/IT students.

The rankings reflect the preferences of over 160,000 career-seekers studying for degrees at top academic institutions in the world’s twelve largest economies*.

In the business sector, the big four accounting firms once again occupy the remaining top five positions, with Apple the only new entrant to the top ten. The top ten in the engineering/IT sector have seen a gentle shuffling of positions, but no further variations in terms of entries or exits.

The two sets of top-ten rankings are as follows (with last year’s positions in parentheses):

Business: 1 Google (1); 2 KPMG (2); 3 PwC (4); 4 Ernst & Young (3); 5 Deloitte (5); 6 Microsoft (7); 7 Procter & Gamble (6); 8 J.P. Morgan (9); 9 Apple (19); 10 Goldman Sachs (10).

Engineering/IT: 1 Google (1); 2 IBM (3); 3 Microsoft (2); 4 BMW (5); 5 Intel (6); 6 Sony (4); 7 Apple (10); 8 General Electric (7); 9 Siemens (8); 10 Procter & Gamble (9).

Apple, Microsoft and P&G thus join Google as the only companies to feature among the top ten for both sets of career-seekers. Unsurprisingly, American multinationals continue to occupy the lion’s share of both top-fifty rankings. The banking industry has regained some of its attractiveness for the UK market while retaining a more mixed reception in the wider global context.

Leading IT firms remain popular with budding engineers. “The software industry is highly dependent on its human capital, hence the efforts to attract the brightest minds in the world,” says Universum partner Carl Durato. “There’s a new working-culture paradigm today, and part of it we owe to this industry. Generation Y feels very comfortable working in this new environment and it’s clearly reflected in the attractiveness of the software industry.”

Meanwhile the big four accountancy firms retain their appeal for business students. “The talent market for business career-seekers is being dominated by the professional services firms, known for being great places to launch a career, and by companies that offer a new working culture in a dynamic environment,” says Lovisa Öhnell, Universum’s head of research & consulting. But with Google continuing to lead the pack, she believes “it will take a strong player with a clear talent strategy to steal this number-one spot.”

(* US, Japan, China, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Russia and India.)

● The first-ever recruitment survey by the Aspire Global Network (formerly the PFJ network) has also identified Google as the company that people would most like to work for. Aspire chairman Paul Farrer says “Its reputation as a leader in new technology, a profitable and continually growing business and dominance within the sector make it an attractive company to work for.”