Careers advice and planning

Which employers offer HR graduate training schemes?

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

All sorts of companies run human resources graduate programmes, including top employers in sectors such as retail, public service, healthcare, engineering and IT.

Notebook with words including 'human resources', 'teamwork' and 'promotion': HR graduate schemes

As a graduate looking to get into human resources (HR), it may seem as if your options are virtually unlimited – after all, every organisation needs HR staff. However, there is one easy way to narrow down your job hunt. Some employers offer HR schemes specifically for graduates alongside their other training programmes.

HR graduate schemes are usually open to students from all degree disciplines, although some employers will ask for HR experience – either through your degree or work experience. Some employers ask for a minimum 2.1; others want a 2.2 or above.

HR schemes are a good way to build a wide range of experience: it’s common for them to involve ‘rotating’ through placements in various teams to gain experience of different aspects of human resources, such as employee relations, learning and development, reward management and recruitment. The scheme could take the form of four six-month placements, for example.

Plus, many programmes give you the option to work towards widely recognised Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) qualifications.

You can also build HR experience via a general graduate scheme that includes time spent with an HR team.

To give you a head start, here’s a selection of opportunities in a range of industries:


  • Balfour Beatty offers a two-year business graduate scheme in which you can specialise in HR.
  • Kier Group offers graduate roles in HR.


  • Accenture runs a two-year rotational human resources talent accelerator programme.

Energy and engineering

  • BP offers a rotational three-year HR graduate programme.
  • Ford runs a graduate HR programme, which involves moving through a variety of roles during your first few years.
  • GE runs a human resources leadership programme (HRLP), consisting of three eight-month rotations in core HR domains.
  • Schlumberger recruits graduates into four human resources roles: compensation and benefits analyst, HR analyst, HR representative and transaction administrator.
  • Shell runs a three-year human resources programme that includes two job rotations.


  • J.P. Morgan runs a two- to three-year rotational human resources programme.
  • KPMG has previously offered a people consulting graduate programme.
  • NatWest Group offers a two-year HR programme that includes focusing on projects in recruitment, learning, reward, and inclusion.


  • The NHS graduate management training scheme includes an HR stream.


  • Mitchells & Butlers ’ corporate graduate scheme previously included opportunities in HR.
  • Whitbread offers an HR graduate programme.

IT and technology

  • Fujitsu offers a 24-month human resources graduate programme with three rotations.
  • Samsung offers a rotational people graduate scheme based in Surrey.
  • Vodafone runs a two-year HR graduate programme, during which you’ll rotate through three HR teams.

Logistics, transport and supply chain

  • Gist offers a 12-month human resources graduate scheme.

Public service and charity

  • You can apply for an HR officer job with the Army .
  • Charityworks placements can involve working with HR teams in not-for-profit organisations.
  • There is an HR option for graduates looking to join the Civil Service Fast Stream .

Retail and consumer goods

  • Associated British Foods – Grocery has previously run a human resources scheme.
  • Bakkavor runs a three-year human resources graduate programme in which you are likely to work both within a factory function and central HR functions.
  • Diageo offers a two-year HR graduate programme, with the potential to complete a placement elsewhere in Europe.
  • Unilever runs a three-year HR scheme as part of its future leaders programme.

Science and research

  • GSK ’s future leaders graduate programme includes a human resources option, which is two-year scheme with three rotations.


  • South West Water runs a two-year HR graduate scheme with rotations into teams such as recruitment, employee relations and talent development.

HR consulting

If HR consulting (advising clients on HR policies and issues) appeals to you more than working in the HR department of one employer, a few companies offer graduate schemes in this area.

  • Aon ’s graduate programme includes a human capital solutions stream.
  • Deloitte strong>offers a human capital graduate programme.
  • PwC recruits graduates into two streams in its tax graduate programme: reward and employment and people and organisation stream.
  • Willis Towers Watson runs a two-year development programme, which includes the options of talent consulting and human capital and benefits.

Graduate schemes that include HR rotations

If gaining experience of a few corporate roles before specialising in HR appeals to you, look out for employers that offer general business or head office graduate schemes. These usually involve rotating around different business areas before choosing which one you want to pursue in a full-time role. Here are a few to consider.

  • Airbus offers a global graduate scheme, with placements in core divisions in a range of countries.
  • MI5’ s business enablers entry scheme involves undertaking corporate roles across a range of business areas and you can go on to specialise in HR (or finance, legal or security) .
  • Newton Europe has previously offered a two-year head office graduate programme, with four-month placements in areas such as recruitment and talent development, alongside finance, events, marketing and more.
  • NFU Mutual runs a three-year business professional graduate scheme that offers opportunities to specialise in HR.
  • PwC ’s internal firm services graduate scheme includes working with the human capital and learning and development teams.
  • Stagecoach runs a two-year graduate leadership programme, which involves placements in different areas of the business including people, marketing, operations and commercial.

Does it matter which sector you choose?

It’s clear from the list above that there are HR graduate schemes available in most industries. So, does it matter which one you get a job in?

Well, first off, it’s important that you find a job you enjoy doing. That’s more likely to happen if you choose an employer and industry that you find interesting.

Also, while HR graduate schemes usually cover similar ground, there may be slight differences between sectors, especially once the graduate scheme ends and you settle into a permanent role. For example, a global finance company will have very different employee and recruitment challenges from a not-for-profit organisation. For tech companies, recruitment and rewards are often priorities for the HR team so as to get and retain the best talent. If you work for a construction firm, health and safety will likely be a focus area. If trade unions are active in your chosen industry, a lot of time may be spent on employee relations.

Start to think now about which aspects of HR interest you so that your career heads off in the right direction.

Next: search graduate jobs and internships

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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