High Fliers Research found that, after a decline in recruitment last year, accounting and professional services firms are expected to be the largest recruiters of graduates, with 4,489 vacancies and median salaries starting at £30,000.
However, two of the Big Four firms and 27 other organisations warned that they have had less money to spend on graduate recruitment this year.
In 2016, employers in the public sector and accounting and professional services reported the biggest shortfalls in recruitment, with over 500 graduate vacancies remaining unfilled at the end of the recruiting cycle.
The organisations featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers expected to hire over 2,000 additional new graduates in 2016, compared to 2015 figures. However they hired a total of 19,658, considerably fewer than what was expected.
Still, the total number of graduates recruited by these 100 companies rose by 1.6% compared with 2015, but a total of 800 graduate positions were left unfilled.
This year, the UK’s top employers plan to increase their graduate recruitment by 4.3%.
The report said "at least a sixth" of places on the top graduate programmes now provide starting salaries of more than £40,000 and 13 are paying salaries of at least £45,000.
Martin Birchall, director of High Fliers Research, said, “With a record 400,000 new graduates due to leave university this summer, it’s very welcome news that Britain’s top employers have increased the number of graduate vacancies on offer for the ‘Class of 2017’, despite all the uncertainty caused by last year’s Brexit vote.
“It’s clear from our latest research that the country’s best-known employers are continuing to invest heavily in their future workforce by recruiting more graduates than ever for their organisations.”
When asked about their main challenges during this year’s recruitment round, employers said that achieving diversity targets was a higher priority than it was a year ago.
Companies said they were aiming to recruit a more balanced workforce, with graduates from a wider range of backgrounds and circumstances.
More than half of the respondents also said they were focused on improving students’ perceptions of their business, while 50% hoped to improve the quality of graduates they recruited.
Jo Johnson, universities minister, said, “The fact that our country’s top employers are offering more graduate jobs is a clear sign that the UK’s higher education sector continues to be an excellent option for people looking to secure a rewarding career.
“The reforms we’re bringing forward in the Higher Education and Research Bill will ensure that our universities continues to deliver the jobs graduates expect and the skills employers need.”
The report also said that the ten universities targeted most often by the top graduate employers were Warwick, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Durham and Bath.
Moreover, it noted that candidates sent more completed graduate job applications during the early part of the recruitment season than they had last year.
So far, there has been a 9% in graduate job applications, compared with the equivalent period in the 2015-2016 recruitment round.