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Graduate Development and Retention


My company is about to start recruiting graduates. I wish to establish a development programme that will both enable the recruits to quickly contribute to the organisation, but will also enhance our prospects of retaining their services beyond the length of the programme. Any hints, tips, ideas, experiences of what could be incorporated into such a programme will be gratefully received. Of particular interest would be the theory as to why a specific programme was developed / works etc.
Tom Hampton

8 Responses

  1. Useful experiences
    Hi Tom,
    I’ve created graduate development programmes for two very different client companies with two very different outcomes.

    I’d be happy to share experiences and some of the high points and potential pitfalls.

    If you’d like to contact me by e-mail initially – – with any particulars that you are looking for and we can go from there.

    Very best regards,


  2. RE; Graduate Development

    I am just finishing a graduate development programme that has given me the opportunity to develop skills as well as given me an arena to prove my ability. Email me at with any particular ?’s and I will will provide you with further details.

    Andy Maclean

  3. Thinking further and wider
    One place I would look for information and contacts is the Association of Graduate Recruiters:

    It may be worth joining up.

    My thoughts are that replicating other people’s schemes would replicate their problems – especially post scheme leavers …

    IMO the biggest weakness of graduate schemes is not the content of the scheme (there seem to be lots of good ideas around), but the absence of a strong link between what happens on the scheme and what happens to individuals afterwards.

    Individuals are treated as VIPs during a scheme – they feel cared for and have a great deal of support, variety and contact within a well understoood structure.

    After it they are left to fend for themselves (or as some people call it: “empowered”!). They are heavily dependend upon their particular manager’s approach to development (if any) and there is usually no structure. They can feel forgotten (or dumped!). Then they leave.

    In your position I would create a 4,5 or 6 year Scheme moving through different phases. The first of these would be 1-2 years taking into account established best practice. The following 1-2 years would be more flexible, but maintain central control over career development. The final 1-2 years would ease individuals into true self-managed careers.

    Use could be made of external secondments to provide variety in the second or third phases and deal with ‘the grass is greener’ syndrome.

    The ‘glue’ I would use to cement these phases together would be progress towards further qualifications (postgraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Masters degrees), probably through Advanced Work-Based Qualifications.

    I would also offer these qualifcations and some of the other benefits to existing staff who are graduates to avoid them feeling that they are second class graduate empoloyees.

    Alan ………..

  4. Mentoring can support a development programme
    In my current, and in a previous, organisation we have used mentors to provide support for the graduates’ development. This can provide more individualised support and development for the graduate and be on-hand when needed. Of course, mentors need to be carefully selected and also development for them needs to be provided.

  5. Graduate Development and Retention
    Hi Tom,

    I have designed many graduate programmes in the past, including one which saw 480 people pass through it in less than one year and more than doubled the retention rate in the first two years of employment of those that went through it.

    If you would like to discuss, please get in touch with me on 0788 079 0815 or e-mail



  6. Support and Development
    Hi Tom

    There appear to be many useful tips already in this section. It is also important to ensure that they have somewhere to turn, both in terms of mentors (on-line and real), a sense of community and access to learning when and where they need it and in terms of when the organisation needs them to have the appropriate skills. A learning integration management approach to this development ensures that graduates have the right balance of personal, management and technical skills that they require as well as that sense of belonging. good luck with your programme

    Paul Northcott
    Head of Human Capital Development QA

  7. Graduate Development
    We have run single, and series of programmes for graduates. If you let me know your address, I will send examples, together with a short paper on retaining and developing graduates.
    Hope this is helpful.

  8. Many Thanks
    I would like to thank all the people who have supplied me with ideas and shared experiences with regards setting up a graduate development programme. These include Megan Cole, Andy MacLean, John Pope, Paul Northcott, Gary Homes, Joanne Dodge and Alan Terry.


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