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Considerations when implementing a graduate scheme for your business

31st August 2011
A graduate scheme is an excellent option for businesses looking to nurture a conveyor belt of junior talent encouraging growth within your respective organisations.

Whether your objective is to attract a host of future managers and senior staff or you are simply looking to meet the short term needs of your business with promising juniors it is important to define a programme to ensure the success of your graduate scheme.

Progression paths for graduates
If your aim is to grow your own talent over the long term then it is important to create a clear path of progression for potential graduates that sets your company apart from its competitors.

The selection process for your business’ graduate scheme should be clearly defined. Spend some time noting the key skills and competencies you want your graduates to have before they set foot in the office.

A graduate scheme should generally be viewed as a long term investment. Even in a recruitment lull continued graduate activity will send a message to employees and potential applicants that your business places a strong emphasis on the future as well as the present.

Determine core skills required from applicants

With the demand for graduate jobs never greater, businesses find it difficult to sift through the plethora of application forms and select the best candidates. It is important to determine core skillsets and qualifications graduates require in order to apply to the scheme.

Choosing a programme that suits your business

There at least four types of graduate recruitment programmes to choose from that can be implemented to suit the demands of your business:

- High-potential schemes – A graduate programme that targets a small group of high-calibre candidates with clear opportunities for progression within your business within a short space of time.

- Low-level schemes – If your business has a high turnover of employees you may wish to adopt a low-level scheme, recruiting lots of graduates in the same role. All graduates will receive the same level of training and you can identify the employees suitable to progress through your hierarchy.

- Cross-department schemes – Sometimes it is difficult to pigeon-hole your graduates into one particular department of your business. As a result, you may wish to consider a cross-department graduate programme that allows them to spend time in each department enabling you to evaluate their best skills.

- Functional schemes – A graduate scheme that should be implemented if you have a particular role to fill within your business. Training for that role will begin from day one of the programme.

How will the scheme be managed?
How the scheme is managed and developed is a key focus point. Think carefully about the internal resources required to train and nurture your graduates, giving them the skills to stand on their own two feet. Assessments and tests should also be considered in order to physically measure the overall development of graduates.

It is vital that you have a structure for graduates that set goals and a standard of work that is expected from them. Ensuring your graduates don’t just become a peripheral figure in the office is a major consideration and one that should not be taken lightly. Their development and ultimately their success are crucial to the success of your scheme and the enhancement of skillsets within your workforce.

Centralise your graduates learning
Many businesses choose to centralise their graduates’ learning, taking them into one office and ensuring they have the learning and teaching resources under one roof. Only toward the end of their graduate programme should you then assess their strengths and weaknesses and place them in a full-time role that suits them best.

Ultimately a successful graduate scheme is one that adds great value to your business, enabling graduates to rapidly progress within your organisation and achieve their own personal goals.

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