In our long list of New Year fears and January depressions, knowing that graduates are finishing their studies only to return to their home towns to work as a shop assistant comes pretty high up. Knowing that so many young people use none of the qualifications that they have gained since age 16 only to do a job that will just pay them minimum wage makes us pretty sad. Like the first ten minutes of Up, or the ending of Titanic (sorry, can you tell we’ve been enjoying a bit too much Christmas TV?)

Anyway, when we saw the headline ‘retail and finance still top destinations for graduates’ we got a little sad about it, but it actually turns out that this type of retail work is the type of behind-the-scenes retail work where graduates are at desks using their qualifications and not out on the shop floor making sure that all the jeans are folded into neat thirds and tucking labels into dresses. And of course, those working in finance are hardly sweeping up the receipts in a corner of a bank branch, they’re crunching numbers and schmoozing at big banky events and doing all those other things that bankers do.

We found all this out through The Complete University Guide, which produced a league table to show the UK companies which employ the most graduates in graduate-level roles. Boots came out on top in 2011, filling more than 500 graduate roles (550). PriceWaterhouseCoopers came out in second place, having taken on 485 graduates.

The private sector dominated the top ten, with seven places taken up by financial companies – Deloitte (#3), Royal Bank of Scotland (#5), Ernst & Young (#6), KPMG (#7) and Lloyds Banking Group (#10) – and a further two in the top 20 – Accenture, HSBC. Other companies to make the top ten include the NHS (#4, and that’s not even including doctors, dentists and nurses for whatever reason) and Tesco (#9).

The figures, which go on for ages and ages (1300 pages and counting!) were compiled from data in the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s 2010-2011 survey of the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education.

Now Hiring in The Retail and Finance Sectors

We’ve linked to the league table so you can have a browse through…are you surprised at the results? It’s pretty telling that the biggest companies tend to be the bankiest – afterall, that’s where the money is. But our surprise is that there are so many graduate-level jobs at retail companies that seem to be massive to begin with!