What degrees are employers looking for when it comes to graduate jobs?

Let’s take a look at what sectors have the most graduate jobs, as revealed in our most recent gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey.

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Our most recent survey, published last Autumn, was collated before the onset of the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and it will be interesting to see how the trends differ in this year’s research. For graduate recruits onboarded during the 2019/20 recruitment cycle, salaries increased significantly. In our 2019 research, the average graduate salary stood at €30,409, for 2020 this increased to €31,938. 70% of employers said they were still very positive about graduate recruitment, despite marketplace challenges.  

What sectors have most graduate jobs? 

We survey over 70 graduate recruiters every year to see what salaries they are offering, trends they are seeing and salaries they are paying. Using this data we are also able to see what graduate qualifications most in demand with employers and what percentage of employers are are seeking graduates with degrees in particular areas. As you can see in the graphic below, IT and technology is the area in which most graduate recruiters are hiring, at 41%. Remember, not all technology roles are with technology companies, it’s a vital component across all sectors.  Engineering is in demand too, with 29% of all employers seeking graduates from that discipline, while 25% of employers across all disciplines are seeking graduates with degrees related to banking and financial services.  

Starting salaries and percentage of employers seeking graduates with these degrees

Career area Average starting salary % of employers seeking graduates
IT and technology €32,665 41%
Engineering €31,954 29%
Banking, investment banking and financial services €30,329 25%
Retail and sales €33,925 25%
Digital media and marketing €28,957 23%
Recruitment and HR €29,446 20%
Accountancy and financial management €26,757 18%
Research and development €29,000 17%
Construction, built environment and property €30,250 15%
Logistics and transport €31,780 14%
Food and drink, leisure and tourism €26,500 12%
Law €33,156 12%

Number of graduates hired

In addition to looking at the amount of employers hiring from particular disciplines, we also looked at how many graduate recruits are being hired in each particular area, calculating an average for that sector. Finance is traditionally the biggest hirer of graduates and banking and financial services leads the list in our most recent research, with firms in this sector hiring an average of 29 graduates. Engineering is an area of strong growth and has the second highest number of graduate hires at 27, with technology and hospitality the next on the list with an average of 15 hires, narrlowly ahead of accountancy, which has 14. Accountancy recruitment figures can vary greatly depending on the size of the employers taking part in our survey, generally speaking it remains one of the areas with the most graduate jobs. 

Average number of graduates hired per career area and starting salaries per sector

Career area Mean salary 2020 Avg. number of graduates hired
Banking, investment banking, financial services €30,329 29
Engineering €31,954 27
Food and drink, leisure and tourism €26,500 15
IT and technology €32,665 15
Accountancy and financial management €26,757 14
Retail and sales €33,925 11
Law €33,156 9
Research and development €29,000 5
Digital media and marketing €28,957 3
Construction, built environment and property €30,250 3
Logistics and transport €31,780 3
Recruitment and HR €29,447 3

It is important to remember that the above figures are averages, and graduate opportunities are available outside the sector from which you have graduated, as organisations continue to diversify and expand into different sectors, no longer constrained by more traditional areas of business. This is particularly common in areas such as technology, engineering, science, finance and many more areas. Finance companies need marketing graduates and technology companies need accountants and engineering firms need science graduates. These results illustrate this diversity in relation to graduate jobs and what sectors employers are interested in recruiting in. 

Visit the links below to find out mor about what employers are offering, or visit our #GradStories sector to watch what gradutes say about working in various sectors. You can download the full gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey here

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