The role of work placements in graduate retention

The Regional Observatory’s skills team have recently completed a major research project on graduate retention, attraction and employment for the Regional Skills Partnership and the West Midlands Higher Education Association.

One of the key findings is that 40% of graduates leave the region to find employment, especially in higher skilled, higher paying jobs in high value-added high technology industries and knowledge based services. Graduates from the Universities of Warwick, Keele and Aston are most likely to leave the region while those from Coventry and Wolverhampton Universities are most likely to stay.

The research also found that graduates who take part in work placement activity are much more likely to stay in the region. They have forged links beyond the university campus and are more likely to have got beyond the stereotypes of what the region is like as a place to live and work.

75% felt that their placement was an important or essential factor in helping them find employment – and many have secured permanent jobs with their placement employer.

The quotes below illustrate the benefits derived:

I knew that I needed that business side to make myself employable… it’s not enough to just have the subject knowledge … you’ve got to have a bit of commercial nous.
Manufacturing and accountancy graduate

Part of the experience was working in kitchens and bars – I learned what it was really like which was really useful when thinking about managing in hospitality.
Licensed retail management graduate

University could only teach me so much. I wanted to work and I needed to learn from people with proper, recent work experience.
International communications & marketing graduate

The key findings to the report, Key findings: Graduates retention, attraction and employment study 2008 (PDF, 324kb) are now available.

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2 Responses

  1. This Birmingham Post article explores the role of work placements for graduates in small businesses and how this can improve the chances of graduates staying in the West Midlands:

    SMEs can help stop the Midlands ‘brain drain’

  2. As part of the regional Skills Action Plan launched in March 2008, a new Graduate Recruitment Scheme will place 2,000 graduates into jobs in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the West Midlands.

    The new recruitment service aims “to place 2,000 graduates into jobs in SMEs” and provide “support for 300 graduates to start their own businesses and programmes to improve the impact of graduates in smaller businesses.”

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