Firms are facing shortfalls in recruitment because they are limiting their selection criteria to those candidates with a first or 2:1 degree classification, it has been suggested.

According to the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), 43.4 per cent of employers recently surveyed stated there are not enough applicants with the right qualifications.

Commenting on the issue, Elspeth Farrar, communications director of AGCAS, stated: "In the past [businesses] would have been happy with students who had 2:2s. Now [they] are saying ‘we have got to have a first or a 2:1’."

She added that such organisations could be turning away very capable, well-qualified graduates in the early stages of the selection process by using high degree classifications as a benchmark.

Findings released recently by Income Data Services suggest that, while the current outlook for graduate vacancies remains optimistic, there are potential clouds on the horizon.

For example, finance firms are planning on recruiting 14.7 per cent fewer graduates this summer compared to last year.