Graduate Market in 2018

High Fliers have launched their 2018 review of the graduate market. The research explores how many graduates the leading employers recruited in 2017 and assesses their latest recruitment targets for 2018.

It also analyses the starting salaries on offer to new graduates,
the number of paid work experience places that are available to students & recent graduates, and reviews the promotions being used by employers to publicise their graduate vacancies during the 2017-2018 recruitment season.

You can download and read the full research here

Key findings:


Executive Summary

• The number of graduates hired by organisations featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers fell by 4.9% in 2017, the first drop in graduate recruitment for five years and the biggest annual fall recorded since 2009.

• Graduate recruitment in 2017 was substantially lower than had been expected at the beginning of the 2016-2017 recruitment season, with graduate vacancy targets downgraded twice during the year, amidst widespread uncertainty about the impact of Brexit.

• Employers in eight out of thirteen key industries and employment areas hired fewer graduates in 2017 than the year before, with the biggest drops in recruitment at the top accounting & professional services firms, banking & financial companies, and the City’s investment banks.

• The outlook for 2018 is cautiously optimistic, with graduate recruitment at the country’s top employers expected to increase by 3.6% this year.

• The biggest growth in vacancies is expected at public sector organisations, accounting & professional services firms and engineering & industrial companies which together intend to recruit over 750 extra graduates in 2018.

Graduate starting salaries at the UK’s leading graduate employers are expected to remain unchanged for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, at a median starting salary of £30,000.



• The number of work experience places available at the UK’s leading graduate employers is expected to increase by 0.8% in 2018, following a drop in work placements in 2017.

More than four-fifths of the country’s top graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2017-2018 academic year, providing a total of 12,849 places.

• Three-quarters of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students and three-fifths offer course placements for undergraduates (typically lasting 6-12 months as part of a university degree course).

• Substantial numbers of employers now also have work experience places for first year undergraduates – a quarter of organisations offer paid internships and over a third of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences for first year students.

More than a third of recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection processes for the top employers’ graduate programmes.


• Half the UK’s leading employers said they had received more completed graduate job applications during the early part of the recruitment season than they had last year and two-fifths also believed the quality of applications had improved.

• Together, the country’s top employers have received 10% more graduate job applications so far, compared with the equivalent period in the 2016-2017 recruitment round.

Next Steps:

  • Whether you are graduate or not you can sig up to our free Young Professional Membership to boost your skills
  • Explore your career options with our new Careers Hub
  • If you are an employer looking to attract, recruit and retain young people you can find out more about our work here

Further Information

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