Less than One-in-Four UK Employers Plan to Hire Recent College Graduates in the Next 12 Months, according to the CareerBuilder Survey. To further confound the tough times for graduates, those lucky enough to get hired, are being increasingly criticised for lacking key communication skills, according to a survey released today.

The problem was the most common singled out by recruiters with 36 per cent saying it was an issue. Twenty-nine per cent felt there was a lack in critical thinking skills while 21 per cent pointed to a shortage of overall business skills. Both IT and maths were cited by 7 per cent of employers.

Despite the problems, UK employers say those students approaching graduation will be entering into an improving, but highly competitive job market, according to the new CareerBuilder.co.uk survey. Twenty-three per cent of UK employers said they plan to hire recent college graduates in the next 12 months while 77 per cent will be placing recruitment plans for this segment on hold until further assessment. Of those planning to hire, 67 per cent anticipate that starting salaries will remain the same compared to 2009 while 6 per cent expect compensation to be higher and 11 per cent expect it to be lower. The study was conducted among more than 100 UK business leaders across industries.

Twenty-eight per cent said they planned to offer recent college graduates starting salaries ranging between £20,000 and £30,000. Fifty per cent will offer salaries of less than £20,000 while 6 per cent will offer salaries of more than £30,000. Others declined to answer.

“While we are seeing more jobs posted on our site in the UK, the job market will remain challenging for those entering the workforce for the first time,” said Tony Roy, President of CareerBuilder EMEA. “It’s important to be flexible. You may not get your dream job right away, but look for those opportunities that will afford you good experience and expand your professional network.”

Thirty-nine per cent of UK employers said the candidate being a good fit for the company culture was the most influential factor in their decision to hire a recent college graduate. This was followed by the candidate’s ability to show relevant experience (23 per cent), educational background (15 per cent) and level of enthusiasm (8 per cent).

UK employers emphasised that relevant experience can come in different forms, including:

· Part-time jobs in another area or field – 64 per cent
· Internships – 50 per cent
· Volunteer work – 36 per cent
· Participation in sports – 21 per cent
· Involvement in managing activities for sororities and fraternities – 21 per cent
· Class work – 14 per cent
· Involvement in school organizations – 14 per cent