4 steps to making young employees more effective

Employers remain concerned that too few Further Education College and University graduates are ready for the world of work.  They would like to see these Institutions doing more to develop business and soft (employability) skills in young people, however the reality is that it will take time to change the tertiary education system.

To this end, employers need to continue taking responsibility for the development of business and soft skills of their first-time young employees.  This is an opportunity for employers of all sizes as demonstrated in this quote from a university careers service professional:


HESA[1] reported around 550,000 HE graduates last year [2013]; High Fliers reported that the top 100 employers provided fewer than 17,000 [3%] graduate training schemes. 

Graduate schemes are sold as hot commodities, whereas SMEs have a cool factor of zero. 

In reality, the vast majority of students who apply for graduate schemes experience rejection after rejection. 

We should actually move away from giving top employers priority, if we really want to help our students.


Here are 4 steps to consider when putting an attractive graduate-style development programme in-place for your young employees. 


Step 1 – Your Audience.  A graduate-style programme should be purpose built with the audience in mind – i.e. inexperienced first-time employees who haven’t worked in a company previously and therefore don’t have any experience of working with colleagues, managers, partners and customers. 


Step 2 – Programme Structure.  Large employers often have the in-house resources to create, deliver and manage a graduate development programme.  These programmes concentrate on rotating graduates around departments for 6 months at a time, over a 2 year period.  At the end of 2 years the graduate will choose what area of the business they want to work in. 

Few SMEs have the in-house resources to provide such a programme.  Nor do they recruit sufficient graduates to justify the cost of running an in-house programme, so they need to outsource their graduate-style development programme to an external training provider.

If you fall into this category then when looking for a provider, see that their programme is tailored for a young audience.  Look for a programme with a duration of about 1 year, with classroom sessions spaced approximately monthly as this lessens the impact on the employee’s day-to-day business activities.  This way your new employees will have time to development their knowledge and skills between sessions.  See if the programme can extend to a 2nd year to develop their knowledge and skills further, in-line with more traditional graduate programmes.  That way you’ll increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining these employees for the long-term, making it an even more worthwhile investment.


Step 3 – Location.  Go for a programme that brings together young employees from other local employers so that your employees can start to build a local business network, as well as a supportive cohort with whom they can discuss issues that arise as they start applying their new knowledge and skills.  Ideally the location will be commutable from your office.


Step 4 – Experienced Instructors.  See that the instructors are experienced business people who can bring their career experiences into the classroom.  If they have employed young people before then they can better understand the journey your young employees are on.


In summary, the benefits of offering a graduate-style young employee development programme are significant.  As an employer it will enable you to attract good calibre graduates / candidates who will contribute to the future growth of your company.  Your young employee knows they will be invested in for the long-term, and that their career will be given a solid foundation on which to build their future.


To find out more information about Akonia's GradStart programme and the next date and location that the programme commences in, call 0800 619 9697 or email info @ akonia.com


[1] Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) - https://www.hesa.ac.uk/