A common image of life for new graduates is that their first few months after student life ends will involve signing on or working in McDonalds, with only a lucky few grabbing the limited number of skilled graduate jobs that are available.
However, while some would argue that stereotype was true at times in the past - especially when unemployment was high - it is not the case now.
A survey by Newcastle University has produced a very different picture indeed. Far from being a grim struggle to find a job worthy of their educational qualifications, the reality is that opportunities abound, whether for accountancy candidates or other professional roles.
The Busting Graduate Job Myths report found that there are in fact one million more professional jobs than graduates to fill them, with twice as many UK employees underqualified than overqualified. All this has happened despite the number of UK workers in professional jobs rising from 11.1 million to 15.9 million since 2004.
Moreover, the pandemic has had an effect on the situation, as the number of graduate vacancies has jumped by 20 per cent since 2019.
All this is likely to have knock-on effects on accountancy practice recruitment, as with any other professional role for which graduate skills are needed. The clear implication is that recruiters needing such skilled staff will need to work extra hard to attract them and also produce attractive training packages to lure skilled staff into the sector, given the abundance of alternative options.
Responding to the survey, chief executive at Institute of Student Employers Stephen Isherwood highlighted the challenge accountancy firms and recruiters face, commenting: “To ensure that employers can access the talent they require right across the UK economy, it is imperative that we continue to invest in graduate talent.”
Similarly, president of Universities UK and vice-chancellor of University of Western England Bristol Professor Steve West said: “This report shows that employer demand for UK graduates is significant - it has increased year-on-year and is likely to grow in the future.”
All this can be placed in the context of a wider UK employment situation in which unemployment is currently very low at 3.8 per cent, while 75.5 per cent of those of working age are in work.
Moreover, the latest Office for National Statistics data has shown the number of vacancies in the economy, at 1,288,000, is the highest on record. While this is across all sectors and not just professionals, it is a further indication of the level of opportunity that is out there.
There is no doubt that accounting jobs are part of this growth in vacancies. Last month, City AM reported that a survey by recruitment agencies Morgan McKinley and Vacancysoft found that vacancies in the sector in London were set to jump 6.9 per cent quarter on quarter, with a 50 per cent rise compared with the second quarter of 2021.
The first quarter of 2022 saw 49.1 per cent of all accountancy vacancies being posted in London, compared with 47.7 per cent in the equivalent period of 2021.