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Graduate schemes and graduate training

Graduate training schemes introduction | Finding a grad scheme | Training scheme advantages | Getting onto a graduate scheme | Typical employers

Graduate schemes and graduate training programmes are offered by many large employers. They typically last a year or longer; some extend to 18 months, while others last for two or three 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 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 and in the UK 300, as well as in sector-focused careers publications such as TARGETjobs Finance and TARGETjobs Engineering. These publications can be downloaded from our graduate careers publications page.

Employers offering training programmes are also typically very active on campus during the autumn and spring terms – taking part in graduate recruitment fairs and hosting employer presentations and events – but this time around you might find that these are virtual.

The advantages of training schemes

Graduate schemes enable new recruits to settle quickly into a professional work environment, receive relevant skills development and get on-the-job 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 the 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.

Some graduate schemes have typically provided opportunities to work overseas or at different locations in the UK, while others have been based in one place. However, you may well find that you will be working remotely as a result of the pandemic.

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.

Getting onto a grad scheme

The majority of training schemes have application deadlines between November and December for programmes starting the following September/October. Ideally, 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 all year round. Despite this seeming to indicate 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.

For recruitment success, make sure you’re clued-up on the applications and interview methods used by employers (check out our employer profiles 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.

Selection of employers with graduate training schemes and programmes

Accountancy and financial management graduate schemes and programmes

Consulting graduate schemes and programmes

Engineering graduate schemes and programmes

Financial services, actuarial and insurance graduate schemes and programmes

HR and recruitment graduate schemes and programmes

IT and technology graduate schemes and programmes

Law solicitors training contracts

Management and business graduate schemes and programmes

Sales graduate schemes and programmes

Teaching and education graduate schemes and programmes

This is just a selection of what you can apply for on just now. To find more, go to the graduate job search. You can find out more about the UK's most popular graduate employers in a range of career sectors from our UK 300 pages.