Looking to connect with graduate talent? Want free support with your recruitment? The LCR Grad Scheme can help. We caught up with project manager Greg Hunter to get the lowdown.
What is the LCR Grad Scheme?
Funded by the European Social fund and delivered by the University of Liverpool, the scheme helps SMEs in the city region connect with graduate talent. As a careers department we love to engage as much as possible with our local employers and students/graduates, and the same two challenges come up year after year: SMEs want to tap into talent but don’t know how to or don’t have the resources to, and students/graduates want to stay in the region but are unaware of the breadth of opportunities here. The LCR Grad Scheme has been designed to tackle both of these challenges.
What are the main benefits for businesses?
Talent attraction and the marketing of roles can be costly – in terms of money and time. We’ve got established connections to talented graduates not only in the University of Liverpool but universities across the city region. And we can showcase vacancies and connect SMEs with this talent for free. Our talent pool is so varied, and we can showcase opportunities to the right audience – whether that’s specific Universities, faculties, or degree disciplines.
The work we do is similar to recruitment agencies in a lot of ways, except we really have a vested interested in helping our local employers and of course are a free service. We take a deeper dive into both candidates and businesses to make sure we connect the ideal graduates for our SMEs – not just in terms of skills and qualifications but cultural fit. We deal with initial applications, video interviews, and then an assessment centre, so we really know our candidates. Once we’re confident a graduate has the right skills and attributes the employer will carry out a final interview, because no one knows the business or the role better than the SME themselves. It’s like matchmaking really! Making sure the graduate matches with the ethos and character of the employer.
So you've connected the right grad with the right SME, is that where your role stops?
No, and I think this next step is the jewel in the crown of the scheme. Once you hire a graduate we offer a training and development programme that helps them to hit the ground running. We’ve done a lot of research to really understand what graduates and businesses need when they join, and the training programme content has been informed by SMEs in the region. It’s based around developing the softer skills of our grads, like managing workloads, collaboration and networking. All of which benefits our graduates, but also our businesses – regardless of industry/sector.
It's one day a month for the six months and as well as developing softer skills it acts as a peer support network and a sounding board for the graduates. We know it can be hard for SMEs to commit that level of support from the off and it’s proved really beneficial for our graduates.
How do businesses apply to the scheme? Are there any criteria they need to fulfil?
Any SME with a registered business address in the city region can benefit from the scheme. When it comes to the roles, they need to be graduate level but can be in any sector or specialism. You don’t even need to have a specific role or a job description in mind, a lot of what we do is offering businesses guidance in this area. If you’re not sure what job titles will attract the right talent we can help with that. Or if you’re not sure if you need a graduate or other support – like an intern or placement student we can help you navigate that too. Having an initial chat can help us to understand you as a business, your culture and character, and how we can help you grow with local talent.
What do you think Gen Z graduates are looking for in an employer – what’s important to them?
I think gone are the days students just want a ‘graduate job’ and this is for a couple of reasons. We’ve seen a cultural shift that has been accelerated by the pandemic and the values of a business are really important to the graduate market. It’s about much more than salary and career progression, they want to know all about the ethos, the character, the purpose of the business.
What’s interesting is this goes hand in hand with what I think is a really unique set of current graduates. The cohort that studied and graduated through Covid are unlike any other. They’ve got a different level of resilience, innovation, and a can-do attitude that I think is down to their unique experience and the challenges they faced. They’re much more likely to take ownership and responsibility and add value in areas outside of their role.
Do you think it’s a challenge to keep talent in the region?
Research shows around 75% of graduates leave the city region. Some were always going to leave, but from our conversations many of them do want to stay here… especially those not from the region, as they fall in love with the city. It’s an ongoing challenge with lots of different factors at play, but I think the region could and should be doing much more to tackle the retention of graduate talent and this project was set up to do just that… and is doing that. The more talent we retain, the stronger the city becomes and the faster we’ll see development of growth sectors in the region. All of which will have a positive impact on our local economy.
Want to find out more about the LCR Grad Scheme? Get in touch with Greg: [email protected]