A Guide To Graduate Training Schemes

23rd May 2015 Chris Clark Jobs & Careers

Many students believe that once they’ve picked up their degree, they can just walk into a job, especially if they’ve got good results and some decent work experience. That may happen for some, but many companies insist their graduate employees undertake a training scheme before they become a fully fledged member of their staff.

Here are some things you need to know about graduate training schemes…

Are graduate training schemes worth it?

Absolutely. Just treat it like you would any other job, so if you’ve been accepted on one, it’s time to celebrate! Some of them can be lengthy but they’ll train you up well, and don’t forget you get paid whilst you’re doing it.

The positives of graduate training schemes

There are numerous plus sides to these schemes. Here are just a few of them:

  • They get your foot in the door at some of the biggest companies in the world. Work hard and you could have a job for life or at the very least an incredibly impressive start to your CV.
  • You get paid. This is no unpaid work experience. You will be paid as you would in any other job, and some of the salaries are really quite generous, too.
  • You’ll get opportunities to network and meet like-minded people. There will be people in the exact same boat as you, but plenty of others who might be able to help get you where you want to be.
  • It’s a less pressurised introduction to the world of work. If you go straight into a huge company, it can be a very cut-throat environment. A graduate scheme will teach you what you need to know and ease you in a little more gently before unleashing you into the world.

The negatives of graduate training schemes

There are some negatives to keep in mind, however:

  • They’re hugely competitive. Only 1 in 10 applicants get accepted onto the schemes, and being rejected over and over again can become demoralising.
  • They’re time consuming. They often involve a fair amount of paper work, and you’ll need to create a great CV, covering letter, probably get a couple of references. They probably take longer to apply for than the vast majority of jobs and are perhaps more akin to applying for university.
  • Most schemes will require you to get at least a 2.1 in your degree. However, there are a few big companies such as Waitrose, John Lewis and the NHS that will accept you with a 2.2, although you will likely have to wow them with relevant experience.
  • Some can be quite an undertaking. Many of the schemes will require you to work long hours, work at the weekends and even relocate. You need to be prepared for what the training scheme requires.

Graduate training schemes can be a great way to get your foot in the door at a big company

What are the best graduate training schemes?

Well, this largely depends on what sector in which you want to work and what position you’d like to have. There are various lists available that tell you what are some of the most popular and sought-after courses. The Guardian’s list, for example, was compiled based on votes by students and graduates, whilst The Times’ incredibly popular Top 100 Graduate Employers book comes from nearly 20,000 graduate interviews.

Taking a look at those two aforementioned lists, here are some of the top graduate employers with information about salary and how many graduates they usually take on:

  • Aldi – 175 graduate jobs, salary of £41,000
  • NHS – No fixed quota of jobs, salary of £22,500+
  • BBC – No fixed quota of jobs, competitive salary
  • Civil Service – 800+ jobs, salary of £25,000-27,000
  • Unilever – 50 graduate jobs, salary of £29,000
  • Barclays – 200+ graduate jobs, competitive salary
  • Microsoft – 36 graduate jobs, salary of £34,700
  • BP – 150 graduate jobs, salary of £33,000+
  • McDonald’s – 250-250 graduate jobs, salary of £18,500-£21,500
  • Cancer Research UK – 8 graduate jobs, salary of £24,000

As you can see, the industries are incredibly wide ranging, as are the salaries and the number of jobs available.


 How do you apply for graduate schemes?

So you’ve decided that a graduate scheme is what you want to do, but now what? How do you apply for a graduate scheme?

  • Sign up with a graduate recruitment agency. These guys should be able to pair your skills and experience up with suitable schemes and can do a lot of the middle management and make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of getting on the scheme.
  • Get advice from the experts. There are a number of career advice agencies out there who can give you more detailed advice on what you need to do and where you need to go. Prospects.ac.uk is a good example – we recently spoke to them about how to make yourself more employable.
  • Check company websites. Many companies make a big deal about their graduate schemes and dedicate whole sections on their website to them. Check out Tesco’s graduate scheme website, for instance.
  • Check job websites. Regular job websites may also list graduate schemes, so keep your eyes peeled and even set up job alerts so you can be notified as soon as they become available.

Do you have any tips about applying for graduate schemes? Or do you have any questions? If so, leave them below and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

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