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A Lost Generation of Graduates is a Risk for Welsh Business

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With concerns a generation of graduates could be lost to the market, the organiser of Graduate Programmes Wales is cautioning that businesses who overlook graduate recruitment will be denying themselves the opportunity for new talent to support their Covid-19 recovery.

First launched as a pilot scheme in 2013, the Graduate Programme Wales (then known as the Welsh Financial Services Graduate Programme) was itself initially created following the 2008 financial crisis as a strategy to support the recovery of Welsh businesses to grow and enhance their teams with top graduate talent.

Graduate Programme Wales presents graduates with the opportunity to kick-start financial and data driven careers with some of the UK’s most desirable employers, including, Admiral, Centrica and Confused.com, while also studying towards a fully funded Master’s. For employers, the programme offers the chance to secure the top graduates from across Wales and the UK and tailor their development to meet the business’ specific needs.

Sandra Busby, Managing Director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, which manages Graduate Programme Wales, said:

“This programme was born out of necessity. The last recession placed many Welsh businesses in a make or break situation. Like today, there was a need to adapt and evolve new ways of working. Developing out of the box ideas into viable services requires businesses to stock their teams with new talents who have never operated in the box to begin with.

“Lockdown has required us all, businesses and individuals alike, to radically change the ways we work and live our lives. The reality is that the new normal is here indefinitely, so it is essential that businesses continue to take the opportunity to secure the talent they undoubtably need to support that change. We have seen that businesses who have capitalised on these opportunities continue to benefit.”

For the Programme’s managers and partner employers, the perils that confront businesses today have many similarities to those faced a decade ago, and so do the solutions that must be employed if Welsh industry is to weather the storm.

Anne Middleton, who is the HR Manager for UK & Ireland at Atradius, was one of the original driving forces behind the 2013 Welsh Government backed pilot programme and Atradius continues to provide opportunities via Graduate Programme Wales today.

Anne Middleton said:

“Today, the risk of a lost generation of top Welsh graduate talent is very real. However, the fact remains that our Welsh graduates offer great potential to develop talent pools and best in class succession planning opportunities for companies that support and promote graduate recruitment in South Wales. The companies that work with the Programme understand this and have worked to ensure that their graduates continue to be part of their teams and maintain their commitments to place new talent within their businesses, and as a consequence present our best Welsh talent with the opportunity to have a great career locally.”

The Programme, which is part funded by the European Social Fund and continues to be adapted by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum and employers, has evolved to satisfy the growing demand from Wales’ financial and data driven industries for high calibre graduates. Specifically, those with the skills and an ability to think differently that is essential in the development of new services that harness the power advanced technologies, big data and cloud-based systems.

Some of Wales’ leading businesses have become long term partners in the programme, including Atradius, Development Bank of Wales Vauxhall Finance, Admiral, and Principality Building Society.

Since the Programme first launched over 144 graduates have embarked on that journey to become part of an elite talent pool that has seen 98% secure permanent roles within the financial services and data industries.

This legacy for graduate talent recruitment and development has been made possible through collaboration between the programme’s developers and Welsh employers. Responding to needs identified by Welsh businesses, the programme has evolved from its initial focus on developing graduate opportunities into Wales’ financial sector and expanded to help shape tomorrow’s economy though new uses of complex data, disruptive technologies and virtual enterprises.