The IT and telecommunications industry was one of only two to reduce graduate pay last year from the level in 2009-2010, according to a new survey.

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) Recruitment Survey 2011, the salaries that the IT and telecoms sector offered to graduates was 1.2 percent lower last year than the previous year.

The AGR survey questioned 222 of its member companies, which collectively are estimated to have offered 20,971 vacancies during August 2009 to September 2010.

The only other sector to see a pay reduction – other sectors maintained the same or increased salaries – was retail, which reduced pay by 4.2 percent.

In contrast, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies awarded the highest pay increase, of 3.9 percent, followed by financial services (3.4 percent) and engineering (2.3 percent).

The median graduate starting salary for IT and telecoms workers in 2009-2010 was £26,000, the fifth highest salary out of 16 industries. It was also higher than the overall median starting salary offered to graduates by AGR members (£25,000), which has remained the same as in 2008-2009, and is expected to stay static for a third consecutive year in 2010-2011.

The highest median salary was awarded by investment banks (£38,250), followed by law firms (£37,000).

Despite the pay reduction, IT and telecoms was one of the industries, along with consulting and insurance companies, to have the most positive outlook for vacancy levels for the coming year.

IT and telecoms companies are anticipating a 33.5 percent increase in vacancies this year, while insurance companies expect a 47.8 percent rise, and consulting a massive 88.1 percent increase. According to the AGR, the optimism is based on both anticipated and actual business growth, as well as an increased strategic focus on graduate recruitment.

Meanwhile, although the AGR found some evidence of the gender gap narrowing among its respondents compared with the previous year, the same cannot be said for the IT industry, which continues to be dominated by men. The survey found that 71.6 percent of vacancies were filled by men last year, compared to just 28.4 percent by women.