Investing in skills for the future

What is a knowledge economy?

Knowledge, expertise and intellectual property have become key factors in determining how companies compete and grow. In the West Midlands, companies are now driven to continuously adopt technological, organisational and social innovation in order to remain competitive. The key to sustaining knowledge based economies is ensuring that people with the relevant higher level skills are attracted to, and retained within the region.

What is the role of graduates in a knowledge economy?

Simon Brandwood, Head of Careers and Employment Services at the University of Wolverhampton says: “Graduates bring a higher level skill that is important to the long-term, strategic performance of knowledge based economies. As well as transferring their knowledge and utilising their skills within the workplace, graduates can bring fresh thinking and new ideas into a business.

Graduates will encourage the adoption of new and innovative technology and production processes that are essential if businesses are to successfully develop high quality, internationally competitive products and services. A skilled workforce is essential to a knowledge based economy, as well as utilising their own experience graduates will assist with the up-skilling of the existing workforce by transferring their knowledge and skills to them”.

So why are employers reluctant to employ graduates?

Simon explains some of the barriers employers have when employing graduates: “Some businesses, particularly SMEs are cautious when it comes to employing graduates. Common reasons stated are that graduates are expensive to employ, lack practical experience and may not stay in the business for long. He continues, “What is not often considered is the potential return on the investment in graduate level skills and the positive impact which this can have as they transfer their skills into the workforce”.

What are the benefits of employing a graduate?

Graduates bring with them the academic skills and the innovative and problem solving ideas which can help take a business forward. Businesses can attract and retain graduates to their workforce by offering them the opportunity to establish a career where their skills and expertise will make greater impact and a real return for the business.

The impact of graduate level skills on a business are tangible. Companies who have employed graduates  through the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme have reported an average annual increase in profits, before tax, of £220,000, the creation of three new jobs and an increase in the skills levels of existing staff.

Try before you buy

There are many programmes available to businesses such as placements, internships, and the national Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme. One company who that benefitted from a KTP is Craig and Derricott. The aim of the KTP was the development of a sales and marketing function to support the introduction of several new products and to re-build the brand in the market place.

Andrew Dolman, Managing Director, Craig and Derricott Ltd: “This project has successfully delivered a 35% increase in the sales of our industrial products whilst at the same time enabling us to establish a network of UK customer outlets for our products and create the business metrics and tools to manage them. The project success has firmly embedded the principles of good marketing into our business planning and tactical operationswith processes that will support our plans for further growth over the next five years.”

There has never been a better time to recruit a graduate; businesses who are interested can take advantage of the free recruitment services provided through the Employment Centre at the University of Wolverhampton. They can advise companies on graduate training schemes, advertising roles and interviews and selection. This may be the boost your business needs.

For further information please contact the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre on 01902 321272 or