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How SMEs can enhance their graduate recruitment activity by offering scholarships

With increasing demand for high level skills and graduate recruitment high on the agenda for most employers, the costs of attracting the best candidates can be prohibitive for SMEs, with bigger companies fighting it out between them for graduates from Russell Group universities.

Nearly 40 per cent of businesses looking for staff with STEM skills have run into difficulty when recruiting, according to research from the CBI. With these skills in high demand and short supply it becomes increasingly hard for smaller employers to compete in the rush to recruit the best talent, with budgets and resources struggling to match those of the bigger companies.

With every single type of engineering in short supply, from mechanical to software, civil to electrical, more than a third of recruiters feared heightened competition for graduates from other employers this year, whilst almost half warned they had insufficient resources in their graduate recruitment teams – Graduate Recruitment Market Report for 2015*,
This is where creating scholarships could help smaller employers boost their early engagement with potential graduate level recruits.

Since the introduction of tuition fees, students have become increasingly concerned about the costs of university, with 80% now saying they are constantly worried about money. **
Creating a scholarship programme directly addresses this issue that is affecting many students, whilst creating a vehicle for your company to select, recruit and train the best talent. Scholarships typically start from as little as £1,000 a year to the scholars, but to a student, this can be a very attractive proposition.

In addition, you can create your application and eligibility criteria to match your requirements and offer it to students from specific universities or subject areas to provide a highly targeted selection process which the universities will actively promote for you to the relevant students. As only a relatively small number of companies have jumped on this bandwagon so far, your message will be competing in a much less crowded arena than it might be via the more traditional graduate recruitment channels.

A scholarship can be offered based on academic merit and subject to continued academic progress and the scholars can also be required to undertake work placements during their holidays in your company, allowing you to not only “try before you buy”. This also provides the opportunity to educate them in to your corporate culture, so that if you wish to employ them when they graduate, they will be more productive in a shorter space of time, than a fresh recruit might be.

One such programme that has been running for several years in the UK, which aims to attract and support fresh talent into the IT sector, was originally the Asidua Scholarship Programme. Since Asidua’s recent takeover it has become the Civica Scholarship Programme.

Asidua’s HR staff member commented “The programme has continued to be a major focus of the company’s recruitment programme each year due to its continued success. As the Scholarship provides undergraduates with real experience on live projects in the workplace, Asidua feels we reap the rewards of having fresh ideas from the brightest minds of the next generation.

The other major advantage is that 100% of Scholars who have completed the programme have applied and been successful in securing permanent employment with Asidua upon their graduation, which means our new recruits already know our company and can “hit the ground running” once they re-join us.”

If you are interested in exploring how your company could benefit from developing a scholarship programme, tailored to meet your specific recruitment objectives, please contact us for a no obligation chat.

* Graduate Recruitment Market Report for 2015 – conducted by High Fliers

**Student Money Survey 2015 – conducted by Save the Student

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