Once upon a time a when people talked about Employer Graduate schemes it wasn’t too hard to understand what they were talking about. More often than not they were referring to a fulltime job opportunity which typically occurred within a major or midsized employer, which focused on recruiting those who had recently completed their degree.
Now the landscape is far more complex and for a current undergraduate, college leaver or someone relatively new to the job market, it is difficult to unravel the options available and who they are designed for. So here is my top 5 list of schemes and of what to look for and expect.
- 1. Traditional Graduate schemes
These are still very much alive and kicking and the total number of vacancies in 2015 continued to rise by an estimated 8% (Source: Graduate High Fliers). Employers view these flagship schemes as their prime method of recruiting new talent into their organisations. For those lucky candidates who are successful they can expect a good starting salary (£25,000-£30,000 per annum is not unusual) and be able to follow a well drilled induction and training programme for the first couple of years. They are usually aimed at recent graduates, and often have a recruitment process that is very different from the experienced hire procedure.
- 2. Apprenticeships
The staggering rise is student debt over the past few years has led to an explosion in the development of New Apprenticeships. For many the prospect of going to university and racking up many thousands of pounds in debt is a daunting one. Even more so if there is no guarantee of a job on completion. Why not seek out a scheme which offers training of a quality similar to that of graduate, albeit at a significantly lower starting salary. This type of programme is often most attractive to those who have just completed A-levels or college diplomas. Nowadays many large employers run an apprenticeship scheme alongside more traditional graduate schemes.
- 3. Degree Apprenticeships
As the name suggests this is a bit of a hybrid, and is something that has been supported by successive governments in recent years, but with only limited success to date. Key to the success of this type of scheme is a partnership between individual employers and specific higher education establishments. These schemes are designed to appeal to individuals who are seeking to attain a full degree qualification, whilst earning a wage by committing themselves to particular employer and therefore gaining a head start in their chosen profession. It involves periods of work followed by a semester of associated study at the nominated partnership university. It all sounds great in theory but finding good working examples is a lot harder to do. The jury is still out on this one.
- 4. Student (Industrial) Placements schemes
In this well established model undergraduates take time out from their studies (6 months -1 year being typical). The length of time is usually sufficient to allow students to build up significant skills within their professions or organisation of choice. It is often viewed as a win-win situation by both employers and students alike, as they return to complete their degrees with a new found purpose and focus. From the perspective of an employer it is viewed as a low risk method of assessing possible recruits for their full blown graduate schemes. It has proven to be a great way of unearthing high quality future talent for a company.
- 5. Internships
Internships or work experience placements tend to be increasingly interchangeable as terms. At first glance they may seem similar to industrial placement schemes. There are however important differences which can catch out the unwary. First and foremost they are usually of much shorter duration, from just a few weeks to up to 3-4 months. They frequently take place over a summer period in line with the student holidays and are primarily designed to provide a “taster” experience of the industry or company concerned. The training provided may minimal, although the very best are excellent opportunities for both students and employers to find out if they are compatible.
- When should I apply?
Tricky one this, as each scheme will have its own particular recruitment cycle, the best advice is to work out what you are looking and plan well ahead. You can be sure that the very best schemes will fill up very quickly. Remember the timing of the recruitment cycle will be designed around the needs of that particular employer and industry, not your academic timetable.
So as with many things in life there are no straightforward answers in the world of employer new hire schemes. But one thing is certain; those do gain entry to a scheme are off to a flying start in their career of choice.
Good luck and happy scheme hunting!