What is a graduate scheme?

Debra Rutherford
31 December 2021
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If you are a student or recent graduate you will have heard the term graduate scheme a lot. But what exactly is a graduate scheme, what are the benefits and how do you go about finding and applying for a graduate scheme? All your questions are answered in this article. Read on to find out more.

What is a graduate scheme?

A graduate scheme is a training programme offered by an organisation with a view to investing in and developing their future leaders. They are offered exclusively to graduates straight out of university. Often considered to be a fast track to a lucrative career, a graduate training scheme is a fantastic option for hard working graduates ready for a challenging career. 

What are the benefits of a graduate scheme?

You will earn as you learn. Because your training is on the job and you will be tasked with challenging roles you will earn a good salary.

Graduate schemes often lead to a permanent position upon completion. Although this isn’t guaranteed, companies that run a graduate scheme are doing so because they know the importance of training and investing in their staff. Once they have put the time and investment into their graduates the likelihood is that they will want to keep them within the organisation to progress.

You will usually rotate around different departments which will give you the opportunity to try out a variety of roles and find the best fit for you. 

What type of companies run graduate schemes?

Graduate schemes are usually offered by large companies and organisations that have plenty of room for progression in various departments. 

You can find graduate schemes across a huge variety of roles and sectors including retail, law, HR, finance, healthcare, IT, marketing/media and transport. Some of the most common graduate schemes are the following:

Finance – All major banks including Barclays and HSBC 

Healthcare – NHS graduate management training

IT – Google, Microsoft, BT and EE

Marketing/Media – BBC, Virgin, Sky

Retail – Boots, Next, Aldi, John Lewis, Marks and Spencers

Is the salary competitive?

Graduate schemes have an attractive salary attached, even during the training period. And of course upon completion you can expect to earn a higher salary should you be offered permanent employment. 

The High Fliers The Graduate Market in 2021 report found that investment banks, law firms, consulting firms, oil and energy companies and retail businesses have the most generous graduate schemes with salaries ranging from £36,800 to as high as £50,000. 

How long does a Graduate Scheme last?

A graduate scheme usually lasts for two years. During this time you will receive on the job training. Some organisations even offer the opportunity to gain professional qualifications. Hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Upon completion of the two year scheme you will have gained confidence and valuable skills to form the foundation of a successful career.

How do I find and apply for graduate schemes?

If you have a specific organisation you would like to work within you can usually find their graduate schemes on their website. 

Keeping abreast of sectors that you are interested in on LinkedIn is a great way to hear about upcoming opportunities.

Graduate recruiters like Our Graduates will assist you in your graduate scheme search. Listing graduate schemes from some of the UK’s top employers you can be sure to find the perfect fit for you. 

The application process for a graduate scheme can be an arduous one. Spaces are limited and the organisation wants to ensure that the graduates that they take on are the right for the company and their ethos.

The process will begin with an application, like any job opportunity. If your application is successful you will be invited to an assessment centre. It is a good idea to practice psychometric tests – You can find 100’s online. And again take to LinkedIn where successful graduate scheme candidates often share their tips.

When do graduate schemes start?

They usually start in August or September after graduation. So you can still enjoy one final summer off. However sometimes they can start immediately when the position is available.

If you think that a graduate scheme is right for you get in touch with Our Graduates for more advice.


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