The number of jobs available to UK graduates will hit a seven-year high in 2014, signalling a return to pre-crisis levels in employment opportunities for university leavers.

New figures from High Fliers Research, which monitors graduate recruitment, predict an 8.7 per cent increase in vacancies this year, the largest annual growth since 2009. This was based on a survey of the UK’s 100 top employers including Sainsbury’s, KPMG, Rolls-Royce and the BBC.

The research found the largest growth in jobs will be at public sector employers, accounting firms, investment banks and engineering companies, which together intend to recruit almost 1,200 additional graduates in 2014. The largest individual recruiters will be Teach First, the teacher training charity, with 1,550 vacancies, PwC with 1,200 vacancies and Deloitte with 1,000.

Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said that the prospects for graduates leaving university this year are “the best they’ve been” since the start of the recession.

“There are [also] more opportunities than ever for university students to get paid work experience with the country’s most sought-after graduate employers – together they are offering over 11,000 paid internships and work placements this year for first and second year undergraduates,” Mr Birchall added.

David Willetts, universities minister, welcomed the substantial rise in vacancies as a sign that “confidence in the UK economy is growing and businesses really value the skills the UK’s first-rate graduates can bring to their companies”.

“A degree is still one of the best routes to a good job and a rewarding career,” Mr Willetts said.

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