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Advertised grad salaries hit a six-year high as employers compete for talent

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Over 36 graduates vie for every job in the UK this summer

Despite economic upheaval all over the country, there is good news for the Class of 2022 as job opportunities and pay rates for graduates soar, so says new research from job search engine Adzuna.

According to the research, 14,690 graduate job vacancies were advertised across the UK in May 2022, compared to 9,265 this time last year (+59%). This is due to employers relying on new graduates to plug gaps in their workforces.

For grads concerned about the current cost of living crisis, many employers have been increasing their pay rates on offer, with advertised salaries for graduates climbing to £26,076 in May 2022. This number is up 7% year-on-year from £24,389 and marks a six-year high in advertised salaries for graduates. In the most competitive sectors, pay rates have soared to new heights, with salaries of up to £70,000 advertised.

Even though there is a massive increase in job vacancies, the competition for grad jobs is fierce, with more than 36 graduates vying for each available job opportunity.

The research showed, however, that European law and banking firms are struggling to match their American counterparts in terms of salary offerings:

US legal firm Davis Polk & Wardwell increased salaries for newly qualified solicitors (NQs) by 8.5%, from £147,500 to £160,000, while its graduates earn £60,000. In comparison, Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is offering grads £50,000 in their first year, with NQs earning £125,000. Similarly, in the banking sector, Barclays is offering their grads £50k, RBS £31,850, compared to JP Morgan offering up to £70,000.

The research also looked into which university graduates receive the highest compensation five years after graduation. The Top five institutions all see grads earn over £40k after five years. The research showed that:

  • Oxford and Imperial are beating Cambridge University in terms of leavers’ earnings, with University of Oxford grads bringing in an average salary of £47,618 five years after graduation, compared to £45,741 for Imperial College grads and £44,190 for University of Cambridge grads.
  • Oxford is second only to Bayes Business School leavers, formerly known as Cass Business School.
  • The lowest-earning grads studied at Aberystwyth University (£25,129), Bath Spa (£25,196), and Edge Hill (£25,334).

Paul Lewis, Chief Customer Officer at Adzuna, comments: “This is the strongest jobs market we’ve seen for graduates post-pandemic. Despite the negative headlines, plenty of sectors remain desperate for talent and looking to grads to fill those gaps. They’re well paid positions, too – with advertised salaries for graduate roles hitting a six year high and some sectors offering pay cheques up to £70k. It’s a welcome piece of good news for the Class of 2022, who battled remote learning and pandemic pressures over the last two years.

“The choice of university can massively impact earning potential, with students from the most prestigious institutions raking in over £20k more a year on average five years post graduation, compared to grads from lesser-known places of learning. For those wanting to earn big, London universities are good bets with grads from Imperial College, UCL, and King’s all top earners five years into their careers. Russell Group institutions also dominate the list, showing when it comes to earnings, the stamp of approval from a prestigious academic institution can still make all the difference.”


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