UNIVERSITY leavers are getting “choosier” about jobs, with more than 1,000 graduate vacancies left unfilled last year, according to new research.

The High Fliers Research study found a “noticeable” rise in the number of graduates who are turning down, or reneging on offers of employment.

Despite this, employers are planning to offer more graduate-level positions this year, taking the number of jobs available to its highest ever level.

The Graduate Market in 2016 report, based on a study of vacancies, starting salaries and work experience programmes at 100 of the UK’s leading employers, found the number hired by these firms rose by 3.3 per cent in 2015 – with 18,818 people taken on overall – although this was a smaller increase than expected. In total, 1,074 positions were not filled, with most of these down to graduates turning down or reneging on offers and a relatively small proportion due to employers being unable to recruit suitable candidates.

About 30 organisations reported they had positions they were unable to recruit for and a further 19 said they had taken on fewer graduates than predicted in July last year.

Susan Stedman, employment services manager at the University of Essex, says: “Students now tend to be much more driven and purposeful, and that means they are perhaps more discerning about their career options. Although salary is still an important factor they also increasingly seek a company they feel fits comfortably with their own personal values or viewpoint, and personal development and opportunities for progression.

The job market was still very competitive and recruiters also expect more from graduates, meaning students had to get good degrees and gain relevant experience to help them land , heir dream job.

Firms are expecting to expand graduate recruitment by a further 7.5 per cent this year, the fourth year in a row vacancies have increased, taking graduate recruitment to its highest ever level.

Ms Stedman added “This is good news and an upturn can only be a good thing for graduate prospects.”