Where are all the jobs?

Milkround's Mike Barnard on opportunities across the country

In the past month we've been asking Milkround users for their opinions about the job hunt and how they feel about 2012. Nearly two thirds aren't confident about finding a job this year and another 15 per cent are neutral, but nearly everyone is trying their hardest to land a role. The vast majority are heeding the advice that applying early will raise their chances of securing a job ahead of the summer rush, when it can be even more competitive, with seven out of ten having already applied for two graduate jobs or more. Two in five have made applications for more than six jobs and fewer than one in five haven't applied for anything as yet.

Starting salary expectations are relatively modest, with two in five of those polled assuming £20,000 to £24,999 a year will be their initial wage. Perhaps surprisingly, 4 per cent are expecting no more than £15,000, while 17 per cent expect £15,000 to £19,999 to be their take home pay. These lower brackets are likely to be increasingly commonplace as the government continues to push firms to tackle youth unemployment with its Youth Contract programme - a state-sponsored apprenticeships initiative.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has been championing the scheme again this month, re-iterating his claim that it will incentivise firms to employ young people by subsidising their wages, and support the creation of 250,000 work experience places. While the scheme will help some young people into work, they're not the kind of roles the vast majority of graduates have attended university to step into on finishing their degree. Instead, graduates will be hoping for a full time entry-level role with wages to match, and the option of an apprenticeship or work experience just won't appeal. Some might say graduates need to accept that this scheme offers some worthy options which might help them land that first job, but more practical advice is sorely needed.

A study by Adzuna, a job search engine, claims to give an indication of which jobs are most popular in which cities - information that would vastly help final year students as they consider where they should be looking for work. Adzuna claims Aberdeen is the best city for finding a job in the UK, while Hull is the most difficult place to land a position. Aberdeen's employment growth is buoyed by its oil and gas industry and the number of energy industry vacancies in the city is 18 times above the national average, while Hull's job market sees 80 applicants for every position - though those looking for a career in healthcare will find plentiful opportunities there.

Adzuna also indicates that the industries with the most vacancies are engineering, IT, sales and marketing. Manchester offers the most marketing and sales jobs, Liverpool has the fewest IT roles and Edinburgh is top for finance jobs. London is the leading recruiting city for estate agents and secretaries, while Belfast has the most call centre roles.

All this is valuable information that could help graduates weighing up their options - though it's in short supply from any readily-available, student-friendly source that's presented directly to them. Together with putting £1 billion into its Youth Contract, the government should set aside money raised by the increase in tuition fees to commission a national view of job opportunities that would be perfect for graduates wanting to know where the jobs they want are the most plentiful. Doing so would also provide a realistic overview of the jobs market nationally and help manage expectations, and could even assist school leavers considering what and where to study.