Graduate Training Schemes Guide

A look at why graduate training schemes are so sought after and some useful tips for applying for them.

If you are coming towards the end of your time at university, or just like to plan in advance, you’re probably going to want to start looking at the job opportunities that lie ahead. One of the most sought-after career paths for those leaving university is going down the graduate training scheme route.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at graduate training schemes, and why it is that so many students are after them. 

What are graduate training schemes?

Graduate scheme jobs

More commonly referred to as grad schemes, these opportunities are available to university graduates that are looking to start their careers. Grad schemes usually involve gaining experience in a variety of different roles within a company, before narrowing down into a specialist position after finishing the training.

University students can visit graduate fairs to learn about the different schemes available that may interest them. Alternatively, information can be found directly on the websites of the organisations which are offering their own graduate schemes, as well as various other student employment websites.

Grad schemes are usually highly competitive, with many students going after the same positions. The process of getting on to a graduate scheme can be exhausting, however, if you are lucky enough to land one, the benefits can make the application process all worthwhile. 

Differences between graduate training schemes and graduate jobs

The main alternative to graduate training schemes is a graduate job, and the two opportunities typically have different characteristics. 

In terms of the application process, you usually need to apply for grad schemes way in advance, often around the start of your final year in preparation for starting after you graduate. On the other hand, graduate jobs can often be secured after you have graduated, but some may still require you to apply in advance while you are still studying.

Grad schemes are usually only offered by large scale companies, however, there are other smaller companies that offer them, but it’s not common. Companies of all sizes tend to offer graduate jobs, which are usually entry level roles that are specifically aimed at graduates. 

Training tends to be a major difference between the two opportunities. Graduate schemes offer extensive training with a solid structure, plan, and guidelines in place. With graduate jobs, there tends to be more shadow work and on the job training. The most beneficial training method will likely depend on you as an individual. 

As previously mentioned, graduate schemes are usually highly competitive with hundreds if not thousands of applicants. They also tend to offer high starting salaries with a clear view to progression. Graduate jobs are still competitive, but the field of applicants isn’t usually as big as grad schemes. Salaries offered are also likely to be lower when compared to schemes.   

Benefits of graduate training schemes

There are several benefits of graduate training schemes, which is why they are so sought-after and tough to get on to. Some of the most common benefits have been detailed below: 

  • Extensive training programs – one of the biggest benefits of graduate schemes is that you are trained properly to become an expert in a particular field. Most schemes will offer you the opportunity to work with several different teams and give you a thorough understanding of the company and role you’ll be taking on. 
  • Networking opportunities – If you’re working for a large-scale company, the chances are that you’ll get to spend time with a lot of different clients and other industry professionals. Who you know in the working world goes a long way, so the networking opportunities associated with grad schemes are a huge pull. 
  • Travelling – Many graduate schemes offer the chance to travel either internationally or within the country. As many companies are international, there is the potential for business trips abroad. 
  • Fast track to management – Several graduate schemes set you up for a position in a managerial role once you have completed the training scheme. With some schemes, you’ll specialise in a specific role with a view to progress to the head of that position, whereas with others, you may get a broader experience with a view to becoming a project or team manager. 

Tips on applying for graduate training schemes and securing a place on one

Student looking for graduate schemes

As explained throughout this blog post, securing a place on a graduate training scheme can be difficult and there’s some serious competition. But if you want some tips to put you in the best position to apply, try some of the following: 

  • Apply in good time – grad scheme applications usually open in September, typically a year before the start date. It’s best to be as prepared as possible so you can apply in good time, as the deadline for applications tends to be around December / January. 
  • Make your CV stand out – to secure your place on a graduate scheme, you’re going to have to stand out ahead of the crowd. It can be a good idea to get your CV looked over by a professional, who may be able to offer you some advice for improving it before you apply. 
  • Don’t miss deadlines! – This should be a standard throughout your working life, but if you miss a deadline during the application process, it doesn’t look well for the people you are trying to impress. 
  • Get in touch with a specialist recruiter – you can contact the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, which is a free service that specialises in finding jobs and schemes for graduates.

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