Graduates face growing gap between pay and job prospects
THE gap between the job and salary fortunes of new graduates is continuing to grow.
The two-track employment market is offering plenty of opportunities and higher salaries for those with key skills.
But others are finding it tougher to get a job -- and when they do, the salary is probably lower than last year.
A major annual survey shows the average employer is recruiting one fewer graduate this year than in 2011.
However, boom sectors where technology skills are in demand still have difficulty filling all their vacancies and are paying a premium to get the right employee.
The average starting salary remains unchanged since 2009, at €24,000-€26,000 a year -- but the gap between those at the higher and lower end of the scale is widening.
The Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey provides the most comprehensive picture of the employment scene for graduates. It is conducted by gradireland, a partnership between the careers services of third-level colleges and careers publisher, GTI Ireland.
On an encouraging note, 95pc of companies said they would be recruiting this year, up from 85pc last year and 67pc in 2010.
But while recruitment is happening, intake is down slightly, reflecting a cautious approach by business in the current economic climate.
However, 29pc of companies said they expected to face challenges filling vacancies because of a lack of applicants or lack of applicants with the right qualifications.
The survey found a great variation in salary both by sector and region, with 25pc of new graduates starting on less than €24,000.
Crucially, there is a notable trend of graduate salaries rising in some sectors, while they are being reduced elsewhere.
Some firms, such as those in the hi-tech area, where there is a skills shortage, are having to pay a premium for hard-to-source graduates.
The proportion of graduates starting on more than €32,000 has grown from 13pc last year to 15pc in 2012.
However, sectors where there are more graduates than jobs have seen a salary reduction.
Those starting on less than €20,000 a year have risen from 4pc to 7pc.
Other key findings include:
• 62pc of all graduate jobs are in the accountancy/financial management and IT sectors.
• A 2:1 degree or above is increasingly important in getting a graduate job.
• 49pc of all graduate employers say lack of IT skills is the main obstacle to recruitment.
• Work experience is more important than postgraduate qualifications for the majority of graduate employers.
More than 2,980 jobs have been announced in the information and communications (ICT) sector this year in addition to 4,000 jobs announced in 2011.
The best-paid jobs for graduates are in engineering and manufacturing, averaging €30,000, while IT graduates averaged €29,000.
This compared with €24,700 in construction and €22,500 in accountancy/financial management, where most vacancies are on offer.
The job areas with the least vacancies included construction/property, logistics and transport, human resources, the public and voluntary sectors, retail/sales, law and marketing/advertising/media.
Graduate opportunities are not necessarily related to a firm's main business.
For instance, banks take on as many IT graduates each year as they do graduates with business and finance qualifications.