From education to employment

Grad salaries soar as employers jostle for talent

The Class of 2022 need not fear a downturn in the jobs market. Despite the high profile layoffs and crypto crash, job opportunities for graduates have grown strongly year-on-year and pay rates on offer are rising, according to new research from smarter job search engine Adzuna

May 2022 saw 14,690 graduate job vacancies advertised across the UK, +59% higher than 9,265 this time last year, as employers tap up new graduates to plug gaps in their workforces.

In a bid to attract talent, pay rates are also rising. Advertised salaries on offer for graduate openings have climbed to £26,076 in May 2022, up 7% year-on-year from £24,389. It marks a six year high in advertised salaries for graduates. Furthermore, in the most competitive sectors, pay rates have hit new heights, with salaries of up to £70,000 on offer.

Graph 1: Graduate job vacancies and advertised salaries since 2020

However, competition for grad jobs remains hot. With around 540,000 UK students set to graduate this year according to figures from HESA, more than 36 graduates will be vying for every available opportunity in summer 2022.

Paul Lewis, chief customer officer at job search engine 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.”

10 of the top graduate employers hiring now, include:

  • Aldi, which offers a £44,000 starting salary and a fully expensed car
  • Lidl, supply chain graduate programme, paying £37,000
  • KPMG, advertising its grad schemes kicking off this September for Audit, Consulting, and Tax
  • Sage is advertising graduate openings for testers, developers, DevOps, administrators, machine learning engineers & more
  • Galliford Try, currently advertising its 2022 Graduate Programme
  • Nottingham Trent University graduate development programme, with advertised salaries of £23,500
  • Jacobs
  • ey, which also offers a metaverse-based student recruitment programme of events
  • Teach First, with applications open for its Autumn Institute
  • Deloitte graduate programme

Inflation busting graduate pay rates on offer

Crucially for grads concerned about the cost of living crisis being driven by high inflation, many employers have been raising the pay rates they offer.

In the law sector, European firms are struggling to keep up with their American counterparts. US legal firm Davis Polk & Wardwell has bumped up salaries for newly qualified solicitors (NQs) by 8.5% from £147,500 to £160,000, while its graduates earn £60,000. By comparison, Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is offering grads £50,000 in their first year, with NQs earning £125,000.

The same is true in banking, with Barclays offering their grads £50k, RBS £31,850, compared to JP Morgan at up to £70,000.

Other employers offering lucrative options include MI5 (starting salaries of £33,000) and BP at £35,000 – £45,000.

The most valuable grads in the UK

Adzuna also dug into which university graduates receive the highest compensation five years after graduation, based on an analysis of over 120,000 UK jobseeker CVs uploaded to Adzuna’s ValueMyCV between 2019 and 2022. Text mining technology was used to look at the career pathways taken by recent grads, and the jobs they are working in 5 years after graduation, revealing average earnings across different institutions.

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 but renamed in September 2021, due to links with slavery.

The lowest earning grads meanwhile, studied at Aberystwyth University (£25,129), Bath Spa (£25,196) and Edge Hill (£25,334).

Paul Lewis continues: “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.”

Table 1: Graduate salaries, by institution

UniversityAverage salary, 5 years after graduation
Bayes Business School (formerly Cass)£52,167
University of Oxford£47,618
Imperial College£45,741
University of Cambridge£44,190
University College London£40,866
Cranfield University£39,695
Durham University£39,147
University of Nottingham£38,426
University of Edinburgh£38,233
University of Reading£37,430
King’s College London£37,324
University of Strathclyde£37,043
University of Bath£36,317
University of Manchester£36,227
Robert Gordon University£35,834
University of Warwick£35,615
University of Huddersfield£34,873
University of Southampton£34,814
London School of Economics and Political Science£34,772
Birkbeck, University of London£34,716
Loughborough University£34,591
University of Bristol£34,094
City University£33,988
Kingston University£33,926
Queen Mary University of London£33,675
University of Aberdeen£33,670
University of Leicester£33,640
Brunel University£33,638
University of London£33,588
Lancaster University£33,180
University of York£32,943
University of Exeter£32,900
University of Bolton£32,868
Aston University£32,555
Cardiff University£32,368
Oxford Brookes University£32,347
Heriot-Watt University£32,333
London Metropolitan University£32,240
University of Brighton£32,004
University of Hertfordshire£31,862
University of West London£31,860
University of Sussex£31,783
Royal Holloway, University of London£31,755
University of The West of England£31,698
University of Stirling£31,593
University of Surrey£31,532
Cardiff Metropolitan University£31,514
University of Glasgow£31,395
University of East London£31,360
University of Bedfordshire£31,346
University of Birmingham£31,248
Newcastle University£31,244
University of Liverpool£31,123
University of Dundee£30,998
Plymouth University£30,957
University of Hull£30,830
University of Bradford£30,703
The Open University£30,701
De Montfort University£30,689
University of Westminster£30,637
Bournemouth University£30,615
University of Plymouth£30,591
BPP University£30,580
University of Portsmouth£30,579
University of Leeds£30,506
Swansea University£30,433
University of Greenwich£30,430
University of East Anglia£30,204
Northumbria University£30,167
University of Kent£30,089
Birmingham City University£29,884
Middlesex University£29,844
Anglia Ruskin University£29,776
Edinburgh Napier University£29,769
University of Sheffield£29,688
Glasgow Caledonian University£29,679
University of Essex£29,676
Coventry University£29,583
University for the Creative Arts£29,552
University of Law£29,181
London South Bank University£29,147
University of Derby£28,909
Sheffield Hallam University£28,885
University of Central Lancashire£28,778
University Of The Arts£28,635
Nottingham Trent University£28,632
Teesside University£28,516
University of Salford£28,065
University of Lincoln£27,941
Southampton Solent University£27,933
University of Wolverhampton£27,816
University of Chester£27,749
Staffordshire University£27,734
Manchester Metropolitan University£27,719
Canterbury Christ Church University£27,564
University of Roehampton£27,361
University of Sunderland£27,308
Keele University£27,239
University of South Wales£27,232
Buckinghamshire New University£26,986
Leeds Beckett University£26,712
University of Northampton£26,672
Ulster University£26,548
Goldsmiths, University of London£26,340
Bangor University£26,315
Liverpool John Moores University£25,749
Azad University£25,715
Edge Hill University£25,334
Bath Spa University£25,196
Aberystwyth University£25,129

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