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How universities can build relationships with graduate employers

Universities and graduate employers go hand in hand – they’re both helping to create the talented leaders of the future, the people who will run our country, change our lives and invent the next big thing.

Despite this, universities and graduate employers don’t always collaborate to the best of their ability – the skills gap in the UK is undeniable, and many cite the lack of employability skills amongst graduates as the reason why.

So what can universities do to build better relationships with employers, and give their students the best chance of success in the working world?

Here’s some ideas:

Find out what graduate employers want, and show them your students can provide it

According to this government report on graduate recruitment and selection practices from last year, there’s a wide range of approaches from graduate employers with regards to how they target different universities, and why they target them.

The report talks about how employers may be looking for certain things from the graduates they recruit, and how that affects which universities in particular they build relationships with.

Elements like location, previous track record in providing high calibre candidates, and the technical content of specialist courses can really attract employers to want to work with your university and find their next graduate talent.

Think about the graduate employers in your region and what they’re looking for from candidates; it might be a great academic track record, lots of extracurricular activities, or some really specialist knowledge. Then think about what your university does to provide those things to students, and use that as a way in to get graduate employers interested and excited about working with you.

Launch an internship scheme

A fantastic example of universities building positive relationships with local graduate employers is Sheffield’s ‘RISE’ scheme.

A joint effort between Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield, the city of Sheffield itself and the private sector within it, the RISE internship scheme ‘aims to increase graduate employment in small and medium sized enterprises’ in the area.

The RISE scheme does this by helping to bring together ‘the region’s network of innovative and exciting businesses’ with ‘graduates with energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas’, and it has a positive effect on the whole community.

You don’t always need to build relationships with huge companies to make an impact; working with SMEs is important too, and could provide opportunities for the both the graduate and the company which otherwise would have been missed if the company doesn’t have the resources to reach out to higher education to boost its recruitment process.

Think beyond careers fairs

It’s hard to think of original and engaging ways to bring graduate employers into your university to meet students which doesn’t result in some form of careers fair.

But how else can you connect employers with your most talented graduates?

One great example of this in action is Teesside University’s Animex festival.

The largest festival in the UK dedicated to animation and computer games, Animex is a week-long gathering of the animation industry’s top companies and representatives at Teesside University. It includes lectures from keynote speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, and has given many students a boost to their careers in the early days by allowing them to meet the influential players in their industry.

What method, events and strategies can you use to bring together graduate employers and your students? How can you reach out to graduate employers and get them excited about meeting new potential candidates at your university?

At Gradvert we’re the only UK company that works strategically with both universities and employers to roll out successful graduate recruitment schemes and train future leaders.

To talk to us about how you can build relationships with graduate employers, get in touch today.

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