Graduate Training Schemes

Graduate working in office

Graduate training schemes are associated with the largest employers in sectors, such as accountancy and professional services, engineering, manufacture, transport, retail, media, chemistry and pharmaceuticals, finance, IT and the public sector. Typically, companies within these sectors can recruit several hundred graduates per year and in addition to their key activity For example, an engineering company may have vacancies in IT, finance, marketing and human resources.

Applications are made to these schemes in the autumn of your final year and you will then undergo a recruitment process which may last several months. Aspects of recruitment may include psychometric tests, applications forms /CVs, different types of interview and assessments centres. If you are successful you will be notified around February/March  and start the scheme in August/September. For advice on all aspects of the recruitment process have a look at our CVs, applications and interviews section.

Training schemes typically last eighteen months to three years and can include professional exams related to the role, eg chartered accountancy exams (usually funded by the employer). During this time, you are employed by the company and commonly undergo rotational placements to build up your knowledge of the whole company as well as expertise in your particular role. This type of training scheme only accounts for a small part of the graduate job scene.

Graduate Positions

Graduate positions relate to employment in companies where roles require graduate level skills but where the company does not have a formal graduate training programme. The positions necessarily include elements of training but do not always include rotational placements within the company. Training is often linked to more experienced company personnel with the graduate receiving regular appraisals and opportunities to undertake external exams, or other forms of accreditation.

These positions are less likely to be advertised on the larger graduate job websites, such as TARGETjobs or Prospects. Instead you may have to explore other sources, such as:

  • University Careers Service websites: access CareerConnect
  • national and local newspapers
  • relevant journals
  • professional body websites
  • networking – through attendance at careers fairs and employer presentations and use of social media, particularly LinkedIn
Other Entry Level Positions

These positions are undertaken by graduates to build up experience in sectors where it may be very challenging to secure permanent, paid employment. These sectors include environment and ecology, media, marketing, cultural or entertainment. Permanent employment requires a portfolio of experience which commonly includes voluntary positions and internships whilst at university and a number of short term contracts, or even some short term volunteering, after graduation.

Many of these short term opportunities are sourced through effective networking or opportunities which arise on the back of existing volunteering. You should try to build up your experience whilst at university to enhance your CV and create useful employer contacts.

You can read broad overviews of job sectors on the Prospects and TARGETjobs websites. CareerPlayer has useful video clip introductions to specific job sectors.