Almost 40 per cent of employers are planning to raise graduate recruitment this year, according to research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. A snapshot survey of almost 100 companies taken in April, found that almost 60 per cent say they are still open for applications and 55 per cent are more confident about the economy compared to three months ago.

These findings are supported by the careers website Graduate Prospects, which has experienced a 50 per cent increase in advertising from recruiters in the first four months of 2010 compared to the same period last year.

“Companies are taking on more graduates as the economy is rebounding,” says chief executive Mike Hill. “Graduates are not as well off as they were before the recession, but they are in a substantially better position. We hope and expect this trend to continue into 2011.”

Perhaps surprisingly, this positive news from employers comes at a time of increasing negativity among undergraduates. Only 50 per cent say they now feel confident about finding a job after they graduate, compared to 60 per cent in February, according to a survey of more than 1,000 final-year university students conducted by Target Jobs in April.

“Graduates tend to fluctuate between being overly optimistic in the good times and overly pessimistic in the bad times,” says Hill, quoted in The Independent. “In 2007, young people thought they could walk into a job without dressing properly or preparing their CV. Now graduates aren’t even applying for jobs, because they think ‘what’s the point?’ They have to be more realistic. There are a lot more jobs out there in far more fields than graduates think.”

Dyson seeks engineers

The research and engineering company Dyson is planning to double its number of UK engineers, opening up 350 opportunities for graduates. The new employees will be based at the company’s Wiltshire laboratories, where they will be expected to help invent and design new machines for the company that invented the bagless vacuum cleaner.

Dyson is already the second highest patent filer in the UK after Rolls Royce, and this announcement is expected to help increase its total number of UK employees to 1,600. The new vacancies will include specific opportunities for graduate design engineers, mechanical engineers and acoustic engineers.

It is expected that female graduates will be encouraged to apply for the new positions. In a recent report for the Conservative party about the future of UK engineering, the company’s head, James Dyson, drew attention to the relatively small number of female engineers in the country. “We know that 4 per cent of teenage girls want to be engineers, 14 per cent want to be scientists, and 32 per cent want to be models. We need to change that attitude by improving the cultural recognition of science and engineering.”

According to new research compiled by Engineering UK, the independent body that helps to promote engineers’ contribution to the UK, Britain has the lowest rate of female engineers in Europe. Only 9 per cent of our engineering professionals are women, compared to 18 per cent in Spain, 26 per cent in Sweden and 20 per cent in Italy.