Graduate starting salaries set to rise

The average starting salary for graduates is set to rise higher than previously predicted, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which published the summer edition of its bi-annual survey recently.

Previously, AGR members had predicted a 4% increase in graduate salary, to £26,000. New data in the summer edition reveals an even more positive picture, as recruiters exceeded their estimate and indicated an expected increase of 6%, to £26,500.

Meanwhile, the survey suggested further positive news for graduates, as vacancies for graduates are predicted to dip by a marginal 0.6%. This follows a previous predication of 1.2% for the same period, demonstrating a gradual return to stability in the graduate jobs market.

The survey also shows that there are fewer applications per place this year, decreasing to an average of 73 per vacancy following an unprecedented high of 83 applications per vacancy last year. Respondents noted that the quality of applications had increased, suggesting that graduates are taking their time to be more selective and thorough in their applications.

A 2:1 degree classification remains the most common selection criteria used by graduate recruiters, with 76% using it as minimum entry standard for the graduates they recruit. This has increased from 73% last year.

The AGR is the leading voice of graduate recruiters and developers and its bi-annual survey provides the most extensive and detailed insight into the state of the graduate jobs market. Today’s edition is based on the responses of 215 AGR members in the UK across over 20 sectors, which will provide an estimated 21,194 graduate vacancies in 2012. The research was carried out by research specialists CFE during May 2012.

Internships: What does the law say?

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src="" alt="" width="189" height="133" />If you intern for a company you have no right to expect the national minimum wage. This is a myth we hear regularly from students as well as employers. In most cases, internships are not exempt from the national minimum wage. Internships can be a great way of getting experience and building up knowledge.  Regardless of which sector interests you, there should be internship opportunities to consider. Our Job Online website has lots of internship opportunities ranging from economic policy to print media.

“I gained a number of transferrable skills from my advertising internship, which have since helped me to secure a part-time job alongside my studies. In addition, I made some good friends, some great contacts, and even managed to get a recommendation for my LinkedIn profile!”

Jack Smale, Royal Holloway 2011

The Careers Group has a national minimum wage policy and does not promote opportunities that fail to comply with the law. However other sites do and it is very easy to find unpaid experiences. I find it disturbing when I see multinational corporations ignore the UK law and recruit unpaid labour. I agree that there is a dichotomy around paying internships (valuable experience for the wealthy vs social mobility), the law is unambiguous. I also recently came across a company that charges students up to £200 per day for the privilege of an internship with (not prestigious) companies. Whilst this may be the culture in countries overseas, the legal basis of it in the UK is questionable. So what does the law say? The website has a section on the national minimum wage including rates, entitlement and taking action to ensure complaince.

Nearly all workers in the UK are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). If you are a worker entitled to the NMW your employer is breaking the law if they aren’t paying it.

Some organisations are exempt from paying  the national minimum wage:

  • a charity
  • a voluntary organisation
  • an associated fund raising body
  • a statutory body

Almost all individuals who are workers in the UK are entitled to the NMW. The exceptions if you are doing work experience are:

  • Voluntary workers
  • Students doing work experience as part of a course (e.g. sandwich placement, accredited work experience)
  • Government & European Programmes
  • Work shadowing (explicitly observational)

Voluntary workers can sometimes appear to be an exemption for employers. A voluntary worker is not required to work at specific hours not suffer reprimand for failing to do so. In reality I can’t think of any voluntary organisation that could operate quite so casually. It is not an exemption that would allow an employer to recruit an intern and not pay them. So, if you are interning with a company and are required to be there during set hours (including flexi-time), are actually undertaking work, then it is likely you will be entitled to the national minimum wage. In reality though, we understand that many companies will not adhere to the law and that many students will continue to get experience in this way. The  legal test cases have still not helped employers get a firmer understanding of the law, nor does there appear to be any great appetite in Parliament for the national minimum wage legislation to be reformed.

Please note that The Careers Group, University of London is unable to provide specific legal advice and the information provided above should be used as a guide only.