What your grad scheme needs
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What your grad scheme needs

What are the big hitters in a grad scheme?

We know you've spent time deciding what key training your newest recruits will need to excel in your company. We also have no doubt that experience has preceded this process – after all, you’ve had your fair share of graduates who just haven’t been up to scratch.

But then we had a thought. What if you haven’t? What if you've just missed something? Perhaps it's time to take a new look at your grad scheme. Or maybe you’re facing new challenges that you haven’t had to tackle before. Or perhaps a highly structured and managed graduate scheme doesn’t fit with your organisation.

Well, fear not, we’re here to help! Research tells us there are four things to focus on when you’re working with graduates in your organisation.

1. Lead them into leadership

Graduates are our leaders of tomorrow. According to the 2018 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report leadership is the most important soft skill employees need from their learning and development programmes. It figures that your grad scheme needs to focus in here.

The 2019 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey report hits the nail on the head. Two in five employers (40%) report that they are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the 'work readiness', skills, attributes and behaviours of their early careers talent. Respondent firms identified leadership and management skills as the most critical area for the development of their business and 73% expect to increase the number of people with those skills over the next three to five years.

If your organisation need grads to fill this managerial skill demand, then make sure you find ways for your early careers talent to develop their leadership capabilities. You don’t have to throw a multi-million pound project at them, but slowly increasing their individual and team responsibilities is important.

2. Adaptability is key

Has anyone ever told you it’s a ‘VUCA world’ out there? What they’re talking about is the various dimensions of uncontrollable that are characterising our future. Our environment – life and work – is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. In order for grads to ride the waves of such changeable times, you will need to focus on shifting their mindset – from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset (Carol Dweck), and open mindset (Otto Scharmer). Greg Wade, Policy Manager at Universities UK makes the point:

“Developing the skilled graduates employers need will become increasingly complex and urgent in the future, as the impact of the fourth industrial revolution and the speed of technological change require new skills, re-skilling and upskilling.”

If you're in an industry that is vulnerable to change take heed of Prospects What do graduates do? 2018/19 report - it highlights that your grads will require support to be adaptable and resilient “to deal with change that is now a constant feature of modern careers”.

3. Develop your line managers

Gradconsult listed this as a key theme for retaining graduates at the end of the last decade, and we see no reason to dispute this in 2020. Line managers are key to happy grads, ensuring that they feel supported in their new roles.

The workplace is evolving all the time and this pace of change has been accelerating at an alarming rate in recent years. What is now expected of new employees, and what they expect in return is radically different to what it was even 10 years ago. Not only must graduates adapt to professional working life, but it is safe to say that the professional workplace is now duty-bound to adapt to them. This includes a graduate’s line-manager – who must be aware of their needs and expectations.

In particular, (as Gradconsult also point out) there should be organisational and individual awareness over diversity and inclusivity, and potential mental health and wellbeing triggers.

4. Don’t forget about ‘offboarding’

Everybody talks about onboarding. But it's important to look beyond this initial process of socialising new employees into an organisation. Training graduates should be about prepping them to excel post-grad scheme and to connect them to your broader organisational culture. As this 4-minute think points out – don’t just obsess around retention. What about progress and succession?

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, the future of work is unknown. So it’s essential to stay up-to-date: are there any emerging themes in your business sector? What might be the key skills that your graduates will need to master? If you can pin this down, you can better prepare your graduates for the skills they will need in your organisation in the years to come. You don’t want to have to hold their hands for too long, so make sure you give them the skills and confidence to stand on their own two feet.

Free workshop: leadership

Join us in Birmingham on Tuesday 17 March for a free workshop to explore leadership development for your early careers talent

Graduate development

Got grads? Wondering how to best to give them the skills and confidence they need to excel in the workplace? Find out more about how Outward Bound work with our graduate clients.