The UK job market continues to show signs of improvement as more British businesses plan to increase the number of graduates they hire in 2014, according to recent data from employment researcher, Incomes Data Services (IDS).

The statistics – outlined in the latest IDS report into graduate pay and progression – show employers expect to hire 18% more graduates this year, up from the more modest improvement of 4.3% in 2013.

The finance sector is expected to be the most aggressive recruiter as it expects to increase its graduate intake by 42% over the course of the year.

The report revealed how difficult the job market has been for graduates since the recession, with 60 applications for every job vacancy in 2013 compared with 49 in 2011.

Nasreen Rahman, assistant editor at IDS, said:

“Recruitment prospects for this year’s crop of graduates look brighter than they have for a long while as the number of job opportunities is set to rise sharply. Some sectors such as finance appear to be making up for lost time, aiming to recruit several times more graduates in 2014 than they did in 2013.”

However, although the number of graduates finding work has now increased, the IDS research shows that graduate starting salaries still remain low: 57% of employers froze graduate starting salaries again in 2013 and 65% have not increased their rates for 2014.

Newer graduates are most likely to benefit from rising recruitment figures. Experts predict, however, that many currently unemployed graduates will now be disadvantaged in the long term.

John Philpott, a director at independent employment analyst the Jobs Economist, said:

“Employers will now do two things. First, mop up the most recent graduates as their education is pretty fresh. Second, go through the backlog of people who have graduated in the past four to five years, and see who has been doing non-graduate jobs.

“Those graduates who are most likely to experience problems are those who have graduated in, or returned to, areas of high unemployment, as well as those who come from less privileged backgrounds and are less likely to have the contacts to get internships. Those of the kind of groups likely to experience a long term penalty.”

Photo by John Walker