Engineering appears to be winning the battle to lure top graduates, overtaking accountancy for the first time as the most popular sector with final year students at 24 top universities.
Engineering attracted just over 15% of the 12,000 job hunters surveyed, drawing in 6.7% of final year students, according to the report, conducted at the end of last term by High Fliers research firm.
Oil and chemicals companies emerge as the most attractive employers but those in the aerospace and nuclear energy sectors still need to boost their campus presence, said Martin Birchall, survey director.
ICI, Unilever, BP and Shell, are among the top 10 best regarded graduate employers. Despite its recent high profile recruitment drive, British Aerospace is at the bottom of organisations graduates would most like to work for and is nowhere in a league of 30 highly regarded employers.
`Plenty of students want to work in aerospace but the sector has little or no profile on campus,’ said Birchall.
Graduates expect first job salaries in engineering of around £16,000, 12% above the survey average of £14,400 but 15% below top salaries of £18,600 expected in investment banking.
Pay expectations rise dramatically after five years across all sectors, with graduate engineers expecting to be paid around £30,000 a year.