AGR praises placement year benefits

Aston University campus

9 February 2012

The Association of Graduate Recruiters has praised the benefits of an integrated placement year for students aiming to impress future employers.

The latest survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), found that the number of graduate vacancies are predicted to fall by 1.2 per cent in 2012, compared to a 1.7 per cent rise last year. However, Chief Executive of the AGR, Carl Gilleard, recently interviewed in The Telegraph, highlighted the benefits for those students involved in courses with sandwich placements while advising students against taking two-year degrees.

Aston University has over forty years of experience in designing and developingdegrees with an integrated placement year. Around 60% of Aston undergraduate students take a placement year, the highest of any UK university.

Speaking to The Telegraph, AGR Chief Executive, Carl Gilleard, said:Employers predict two-year degrees will prove popular with students. However, employers do value graduates who have work experience, and those students that have undertaken a year in industry as part of a four-year degree. Consequently, there are genuine concerns surrounding students undertaking two-year degrees as they do not have as much time to gain workplace experience."

The AGR survey also predicts that the average starting salary for graduates will increase by four per cent to £26,000 this year, after an "unprecedented period of stagnation". Starting wages had been stuck at £25,000 since 2009. The expected rise this year is the largest since 2005, when salaries increased by seven per cent, the study of 214 graduate employers found.

Gilleard’s comments are reflected in the annual ‘High Fliers’ survey of the UK’s top 100 graduate employers, which found that up to one in three graduates jobs this year would go to students who had previously worked for the employer.

David Willetts, Minister for universities and science has similarly praised Aston University’s placement year. He has called for more universities to follow Aston’s lead in offering 'sandwich courses' for undergraduates to help gain valuable work experience.

Nicola Turner, Director of Employability at Aston University, said:
“Employers want skilled graduates prepared for the world of work. The best way for a student to gain valuable work experience is to study at a university that offers an integrated placement year in industry or a professionas part of their degree course. Research shows that students who have been involved in work based learning are more likely to acquire the skills employers need, and are more likely to achieve a higher class of degree. Students definitely leave the year with a much greater sense of what kind of job and what kind of organisation they want to work for.”

For further media information contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549