When I first heard someone from senior management utter the words “Do you think we really need to hire graduates and run agraduate programme?” I felt immediately uneasy; “Of course we do, it’s a no brainer” I replied quickly fearing for the security of my job, I wasn’t totally sure what was the evidence to this belief but knew it just made sense.
As time went on, I got used to this question being asked on a fairly frequent basis) and as time went on I definitely responded with more conviction and more evidence than at the beginning. I also began to feel less threatened and more comfortable that there was a definite business case for hiring graduates which then brought a justification for my role.
In fact, it became a question that I relished – a timely reminder to review what is going on in the graduate world and to ensure that what we were doing was really adding value to the business rather than just being bogged down in the day job.
And my rationale was based upon the following key areas:
1) Graduate success stories – knowing the graduates personally and seeing them progress through their careers to positions where they were really making a difference is strong evidence for the importance of home grown talent. These individuals showed commitment and knew the business in a way that could not be developed in a couple of years.
Ensuring I was on top of retention and progression statistics enabled me very quickly to be able to pull out what was going on. This also helped with succession planning.
2) There is no doubt that graduates bring fresh ideas to the organisation and question the status quo. This enables the company to be more agile and responsive to the market that they are supporting. Rather than just doing things as they have always been done taking on graduates will allow you to look at things in a different light.
3) Despite an increase in salaries in some sectors graduates are still affordable and will generally work hard even if they don’t work “hard” in the same way previous generations have. They might not be working standard hours but watch what they deliver chances are it will surprise you.
Ultimately though, my gut feel still feels right - it just makes sense to hire graduates. If we do not all give opportunities to grow early talent there will be a skills shortage. However, if you are involved in attracting, selection and developing early talent ensure that you have the evidence that you are delivering a strong programme and welcome the question as a chance to show just how good a job you are doing!