Graduate boost for businesses

Could your business benefit from new talent, enthusiasm and fresh ideas? The answer for most businesses is, of course: yes. But how can this be achieved at an acceptable cost? one option is to employ a recent graduate, however many smaller businesses shy away from this course of action.

What’s stopping you?

There are many reasons that prevent companies recruiting graduates. Some common barriers include the belief that only large companies can afford to employ a graduate; a lack of dedicated human resource/recruitment staff; and concern about how long a graduate will stay, take to train or whether they’ll be equipped with the right skills.

Although recruiting a graduate does include an element of risk, this is true of any new employee. Many small companies fail to see the potential return on investment in recruiting a new graduate. There is a range of government-supported schemes to support businesses with financing and finding a new graduate. These include Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and the Knowledge Innovation Technology Transfer Scheme (KITTS). There is also a wealth of help available direct from universities.

Simon Brandwood, Head of Careers and Employment Services at the University of Wolverhampton describes how the University’s recruitment service, The Workplace, (email: theworkplace@wlv.ac.uk) is supporting businesses: “We are proud to provide a high quality range of services to support businesses through dedicated expert staff. Our staff work closely with organisations to understand their business and their needs in order to supply both relevant and highly skilled graduates who will contribute to their success.”

James Sweeney, Managing Director, Corporate INTL Magazine continues to return to The Workplace for advice and support: “The Workplace understood exactly what type of graduates I am looking for… they keep you in mind if any government support scheme is relevant, which has saved my business literally thousands of pounds to date.”

A CFE (Research & Consulting) Ltd report* based on a survey of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within the East Midlands found that 62% of SMEs had definitely or possibly seen a positive financial return on the financial investment made in recruiting a graduate. In terms of retention, only 4% of graduates were reported as leaving the business within one year and 28% were still employed after five years.

The statistics from the KTP scheme are even more positive, with the average business benefit from a single KTP project including; an increase of over £270,000 in annual profits before tax; the creation of three genuine new jobs; and an increase in skills of existing staff.

In addition to this, 73% of graduates are offered permanent employment at their host company following completion of their KTP project. For more information on KTPs, visit: http://www.ktponline.org.uk/

What is knowledge transfer?

Knowledge and innovation are being increasingly recognised as drivers of economic growth, and many universities have accumulated intellectual capital that could be of vital importance to businesses. Knowledge transfer aims to share the tacit knowledge often found within universities and it is more than ‘just’ the sharing of facts (which could simply be shared by an email or memo). It involves a person’s flexible and adaptable skills and ability to use and apply information. Employing a graduate is one way in which businesses can tap into a new wealth of knowledge, with the opportunity to add a fresh approach to processes that may not be visible to those already established within the industry.

Whilst many companies are concerned that a graduate may lack the necessary life-skills and practical work experience needed; especially as in many cases employees are required to ‘hit the ground running’, there are also schemes that can help support both graduates and employers. A recent pilot project from Advantage West Midlands “Graduate Works” targeted both the newly employed graduate to improve their skills, and the business manager, to help them maximise the benefit they get from the graduate.

This resulted in 53 SMEs with high growth potential from the Black Country and North Staffordshire receiving capacity and productivity-building business support.

It is initiatives such as these, which support both graduates and employers, that are helping to convince more and more businesses of the benefits of employing a graduate. If you’ve never employed a graduate before, maybe now is the time to take that step – it may be the best move your business makes.