Graduate schemes and graduate training
Graduate schemes and graduate training programmes are offered by many large employers. They typically last a year, but some extend to 18 months or even two years. It's the defined time frame and structure that normally distinguishes a graduate scheme or programme from the wider class of 'graduate job', which is the catch all term for entry-level roles that require people with graduate level education.
A single employer can run more than one type of training programme within their organisation. For example, investment banks typically run separate streams for their operations, sales and trading, investment banking and technology roles, among others.
Engineering employers can run a management programmes or finance schemes alongside their engineering training. Accountancy and professional services firms will specialise in training graduates in particular areas of work such as tax, audit, assurance or advisory.
How to find a graduate scheme
Graduate employers promote their graduate jobs, schemes and training opportunities on targetjobs.co.uk and in sector-focused careers publications like TARGETjobs City & Finance and TARGETjobs Engineering. These publications can be picked up free from most university careers services or departments, or you can download the latest editions on our graduate careers publications page.
Employers offering graduate schemes are very active on campus during the autumn and spring terms.
Employers offering training programmes are also very active on campus during the autumn and spring terms, taking part in graduate recruitment fairs and hosting employer presentations and events. (Graduate recruiters doing the ‘rounds’ of universities to promote their opportunities and meet with candidates has traditionally been called the ‘milkround’.)
Graduate schemes enable new recruits to settle quickly into a professional work environment, receive relevant skills development and get hands on experience, either working in a specific role within an established team, or through working on a number of assignments in different areas of the organisation over the duration of the programme. If an employer has a large graduate intake, it is more than likely that you will have opportunity to network and socialise with your peers.
The golden rule of graduate schemes: apply early, even if the employer has an 'open' or 'ongoing' recruitment process.
You may have opportunities to work overseas or at different locations in the UK, or you may be based in one place. If you would prefer not to travel and you like a regular home life make sure you are aware of how much mobility is expected when you consider careers and employers.
Training in career areas such as engineering, accountancy, human resources, law, construction, management and property is often accredited by a relevant professional association. This type of support will assist you in qualifying to practise professionally.
The majority of training schemes have application deadlines between November and December for programmes starting the following September/October. You need to do your employer research and be ready to apply early during the first term of your final year.
An increasing number of employers have ‘ongoing’ or ‘open’ recruitment processes meaning that, in principle, they take applications year round. Despite this seeming flexibility, you are still advised to apply early. While these recruiters don’t give a hard and fast deadline, they may make offers from the start of the application period and they may close their scheme once they have filled all their vacancies. Some employers do give a specific closing date, but also state that they will close their recruiting process as soon as they have filled their spaces. KPMG is an example of this.
For recruitment success, make sure you’re clued-up on the applications and interview methods used by employers (check out our employer hubs for employers with tips to get hired). Many large graduate employers use online application systems to sort prospective candidates for their schemes and training opportunities. If your application is successful you may then be invited to an assessment centre or interview. Be prepared for psychometric tests – they can crop up in online applications and at interviews and assessments.
Accountancy and financial management graduate schemes and programmes
- npower finance graduate scheme 21 April (npower is 160 in The Guardian UK 300)
- Baker Tilly audit assistant graduate scheme 1 May
Banking and investment graduate schemes and programmes
- M&G Investments investment graduate scheme 26 April
Engineering graduate schemes and programmes
- UK Power Networks graduate electrical engineering programme 16 April (UK Power Networks is 227 in The Guardian UK 300)
- DENSO infotainment & safety Ignite European graduate programme 18 April
- Bombardier Transport UK graduate programme 30 April
IT and telecoms graduate schemes and programmes
- Centrica information systems programme 28 April (Centrica is 292 in The Guardian UK 300)
- Baillie Gifford information systems graduate programme 30 April
Law graduate recruitment: pupillages at barristers' chambers
In the field of law, solicitors' firms call their graduate schemes training contracts, and graduate opportunities with barristers' chambers are pupillages. For many law firms, the training contract application deadline is 31 July, while for many chambers, the deadline for pupillage applications is 30 April. You'll find a list of pupillage application deadlines in our law careers advice section.
Logistics, transport and supply chain graduate schemes and programmes
- Nestlé graduate supply chain scheme 25 April (Nestlé is 69 in The Guardian UK 300)
- AkzoNobel purchasing graduate programme 27 April (AkzoNobel is 181 in The Guardian UK 300)
- Unilever supply chain management – Unilever Future Leaders Programme (UFLP) 28 April (Unilever is 7 in The Guardian UK 300)
- DHL Supply Chain operations management graduate programme 2 May (DHL is 202 in The Guardian UK 300)
Public service and charity graduate schemes and programmes
- Charityworks graduate management programme 16 April
Retail graduate schemes and programmes
- Tesco store management graduate leadership programme 30 April (Tesco is 85 in The Guardian UK 300)
This is just a selection of what you can apply for on targetjobs.co.uk just now. To find more, go to the graduate job search.