LEADING employers across the UK are reporting a sharp rise in job prospects for graduates.

A survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) found a 17 per cent increase in vacancies for university-leavers in 2013/14 compared to the previous year.

The annual report, which includes responses from more than 200 major companies, found the proportion of vacancies in Scotland was broadly similar to previous years at five per cent. Some 46 per cent of graduate jobs are in London.

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Overall, there were some 22,000 vacancies at the companies surveyed, compared to 18,700 last year.

The AGR Summer Survey found the majority of sectors showed growth, with most vacancies in accountancy, information technology, retail management, legal work, investment banking and financial management.

The survey also suggested graduate starting salaries were set to improve, with the median rising £500 from last year to £27,000 — although the figure has remained at £25,000 in Scotland.

The report also reveals many employers still had unfilled vacancies at the end of the 2013 recruitment period, with 23 per cent of employers reporting this. Anecdotally, graduate employers suggest this trend is continuing in 2014.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, said: "The rise in vacancies and salaries shown in our summer report is fantastic news for graduates, and it is encouraging to see that employers are able to invest in graduate talent in this way.

"However this doesn't mean the job market is easy. There are still unfilled graduate vacancies as employers are not always able to find the right people, with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes, for the job.

"Graduates must ensure they really do their research, target their applications and ensure their CVs do them justice if they want to be in with a good chance of securing a place on a graduate scheme following university."

A spokeswoman for Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, said the survey showed the continuing value of higher education.

She said: "This survey showing a predicted rise in graduate vacancies at some of the UK's biggest graduate employers is more welcome news for the students who have been graduating across Scotland over the last few weeks.

"This builds on the confirmation last month that graduates from Scotland's universities have the highest levels of positive destinations of work or study in the UK, the highest average salaries and the lowest levels of unemployment for the third consecutive year.

"We are proud of our record on employability and are confident employers will continue to recognise the talent of graduates."