The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2009, which has conducted interviews with 16,357 final year students, shows that just 36% expect to find a graduate job on completion of their degree, with 26% planning to remain at university to study for a post-graduate degree.
The research also reveals that the number of finalists who have already secured a definite job offer has dropped by a third this year compared to 2008.
Half also fear that even if they do find a graduate position, their job offer may be withdrawn before they begin work or they will be made redundant during their first year of employment.
The survey also shows a dramatic fall in applications for graduate jobs in banking, finance and property this year, with more leavers applying for work in the public sector: teaching; engineering; charity work; and the Armed Forces.
Martin Birchall, Managing Director of High Fliers Research, the company which carried out the research, found that many students are pessimistic about their chances of securing employment once they have graduated.
He said: “Our latest survey shows that final year students due to leave UK universities this summer are gloomy and frustrated about their employment prospects.”
Mr Birchall also pointed out that despite making increased efforts this year, fewer students have been able to secure employment.
He explained: “Although many students began their job search earlier than usual and made an increased number of applications to employers, noticeably fewer have been successful in securing a graduate position than last year.”
However, figures from the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), who surveyed 124 graduate recruiters, found that employers only predicated a 5.4% decrease in the number of graduate jobs for 2009.
Furthermore, one third of employers said that they were still actively seeking applications from graduate in 2009.
Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of AGCAS, was keen to point out that there is still hope for this year’s graduates.
He said: “As today’s snapshot survey shows, though there is certainly nervousness amongst recruiters about the impact of the recession on their business, not all have shut up shop by any means and a very significant number are still looking for bright graduate to take on.”
Linda Murdoch, Deputy Director of Glasgow University Careers Service, advised students to remain positive.
She said: “There are certainly going to be less jobs, but there are still lots of jobs.
“Our recession beating tips advise students not to despair as there are jobs out there – stay focused, use the Careers Service and come along to the Summer Graduate Fair.”
Murdoch added that universities are working with the Government to help support students.
She said: “University careers service throughout Scotland are pooling their experience of work with those graduating this summer and will be meeting with representatives from the Scottish Government this week to discuss how we can best support graduates in these challenging time.”