Published: 2007-07-23

Results from an independent survey of graduate employers in South Africa - to be published on Monday 23rd July - show that employers are set to increase their vacancies by only 4.3% for start dates in 2008. In a similar fashion, over half of survey participants are only planning a 'cost of living' rise in salaries for new graduates starting in their organisation in 2008.

The SAGEA Graduate Recruitment Survey 2007 is based on responses from 54 of the largest graduate employers in South Africa.

The survey shows that while some industries - such as oil & petrochemical, commercial or retail banks, motor manufacturing, and chemical or pharmaceutical companies are planning to increase their vacancies by more than a third for next year there are several industries including the legal sector, engineering or industrial and investment banking which expect no change or even a decrease in the number of graduate vacancies on offer. Accountancy or professional services firms, which provide over half of all vacancies in the survey, are set for a four per cent increase in their vacancies for 2008.

Half of employers who took part in the survey confirmed that they had not filled all their vacancies for 2007 start dates by the time the survey took place in May. The most common causes for this were a lack of applicants with the correct degree and applicants dropping out of an employer's selection process due to the length of time it took.

The key findings from The SAGEA Graduate Recruitment Survey 2007 are:

  • Graduate vacancies are set to increase by 4.3% in 2008, compared to 2007.
  • The accounting and professional services firms are the largest recruiters - just over half of all 2007 vacancies - and are set for a modest increase for 2008 start dates.
  • By job function, the most vacancies in 2007 are in auditing (TIPP) with over half of total vacancies available in this career area.
  • The median number of vacancies in 2007 is 22.
  • The median graduate starting salary for 2007 is R82,500. However, the primary reason for this is due to such a large number of vacancies within the accounting arena and therefore is a lower figure compared to other industries in the marketplace.
  • Just over half of employers expect a 'cost of living' increase for 2008 salaries.
  • When combined, employers participating in the survey spent in excess of R18m on marketing activities in 2007. The largest proportions were spent on employers own recruitment literature and advertising in national newspapers.
  • Behavioural-based interviews were the most popular selection technique for assessing candidates (92%). Aptitude testing was used by 70% of employers.
  • The median number of applications per vacancy in 2006 was 33.

Notes for Editors

  1. The SAGEA Graduate Recruitment Survey 2007 is carried out on behalf of The South African Graduate Recruiters Association (SAGEA) by the specialist student and graduate research company, High Fliers Research. Research for the survey took place in May 2007, using an online questionnaire accessed via the SAGEA website. The questionnaire contained 31 questions about employers' graduate recruitment activities during the 2007 season, focusing on graduate vacancies and salaries, graduate recruitment marketing, graduate assessment & selection, graduate development and retention, and challenges in the marketplace.
  2. The South African Graduate Recruiters Association provides a forum for discussion on all issues relevant to the graduate recruitment market. The organisation is the definitive source of information and advice on current and future graduate recruitment trends in South Africa. It initiates research in education, career choice and employment and represents the views of its members to policy makers, careers services and the media.
  3. A total of 54 employers completed the questionnaire including ABSA Capita, Accenture, Adams & Adams, BDO Spencer Steward (CT) Inc, Bell Dewar & Hall, BHP Billiton, British American Tobacco, Cell C. Daimler Chrysler, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Edcon, Element Six (Production) Pty Ltd, Ernst & Young, Exxaro Resources, First National Bank, Hatch Africa, Internet Solutions, Investec Bank Lt, Janssen Pharmaceutica Pty Ltd, Johnson & Johnson (Pty) Ltd (Consumer), Johnson & Johnson Medical (Pty) Ltd, JP Morgan Chase Bank, JPMorgan Worldwide Securities Services, KPMG Inc., L Oreal South Africa, Liberty Life, Murray & Roberts Limited, National Treasury Department, Nedbank Limited, Nestle, Palabora Mining Company, PKF (Jhb) Inc, PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc, Roche Products (Pty) Ltd, Sasol, Shell South Africa Energy (Pty) Ltd, Shoprite Checkers, South African Revenue Services, Standard Bank Limited, Standard Corporate and Investment Bank, The Foschini Retail Group (Pty)
    Ltd, UCS Solutions, Unilever, Volkswagen of South Africa, Werksmans Attorneys, Woolworths.
  4. Cathy Sims, National Co-ordinator for SAGEA is available for interview.
    Telephone: 021 712-6168 Mobile: 083 297 7740 Email:

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