A survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has indicated that the number of jobs available for new graduates has declined by 8% in a year.
Some companies are reportedly repackaging graduate roles as higher apprenticeships, however overall the labour market for young people is also shrinking, according to the AGR.
The AGR represents blue chip companies and major employers from the public sector. This year its annual survey across 208 firms reported a total of 19,732 graduate roles, down from 21,427 reported the previous year.
In particular graduate vacancies in construction, retail and engineering saw the largest declines.
In contrast this year there are over 10,000 apprenticeships on offer in these companies, an increase of 13% compared 2015, however the total figure is still substantially lower than the total number graduate roles available.
Overall, taking into account the total number of graduate jobs and apprenticeships, the number of vacancies has declined 3% according to AGR.
The fall represents the first time since the financial crisis that the labour market for young people has declined, with the uncertainty of Brexit reported as the single biggest challenge facing recruiters in the year ahead.
An additional cause for concern is the introduction of an apprenticeship levy, which from April 2017 will result in a levy of 0.5% on company payrolls, which will help raise £3bn a year to fund three million apprenticeships.
Although some have questioned the additional value that a degree can provide over the working lifetime of a graduate, the Department for Education said that graduates continue to have "stronger employment outcomes, earning on average £9,500 a year more than non-graduates".