All Insights

How graduate programme design drives innovation

Why graduates are key to innovation. Hire the best graduate talent on the market with an industry-leading graduate scheme.
Graduate programme design,   Talent Attraction

How graduate programme design drives innovation




Hiring the next generation of talent

Why graduates are key to innovation.


Designing a graduate development programme

What graduates are really looking for, and how to give it to them.


How to retain graduates and benefit from your investment

Give them a reason to stick around if you want to see a high ROI.


The graduate market is saturated. Who holds the power?

Should graduates be pitching themselves to you, or vice-versa?



Hiring the next generation of talent

The university experience exposes graduates to working under pressure in a structured environment, solving big problems and generating new ideas. All of the things that make them very employable.

But getting access to that talent takes a lot of effort — probably more than any other role you’ll hire for, because you’re under pressure to show that you’re investing as much in their careers as they are investing in you. See how our solution can add firepower to those efforts.

While graduate intakes only happen once a year, there’s a lot of preparation involved. You’ll need to develop an appealing graduate development programme before attending graduate careers fairs all over the country to pitch it to the next generation of talent.


How your business benefits from graduates

When you hire graduates, you benefit from their skills, drive, ambition and an invaluable future perspective on the market you operate in. The digital generation is more likely to adopt new tech, so if you’re investing in innovative new products and services you’ll have a better chance of appealing to your target audience if they’re on hand to help you build it.


“Graduates £1 billion to the UK economy each year”


Graduates may cost more, with an average salary £11,000 higher than people the same age without a degree, but that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the return you’ll get on your investment. According to the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, graduates contribute around £1 billion to the UK economy each year.


Shaping your future leaders

One of the challenges in hiring any candidate, for any role, is that they will naturally have preconceived ideas about how things should be done. In a fast-paced business, new starters don’t always have the time to get enough context on the challenges they face, which often leads to them defaulting to what they know.

The difference with graduates is that they haven’t experienced the workplace in the same way, so their preconceptions aren’t as deeply ingrained. That makes them much more inclined to listen, be inquisitive and understand the challenge before offering a more appropriate solution.



Designing a graduate development programme


What graduates are really looking for

After committing 3 or more years to their degree, graduates aren’t going to take the decision about their first professional job lightly. They will scrutinise potential employers to find out if they’re really going to get what they need to kick start their careers and feel fulfilled in their work.


Career development

Graduates don’t just want to know what they’ll be doing for the first couple of years in your business. They want to see huge career potential and will likely have a 2, 3, 5 year plan for personal and professional growth. You need to show them how they’ll get that with you.



We’ve seen the rise of the Conscious Candidate across employees of all ages, but nobody is taking more action than the younger generation. They want to feel like they’re making a contribution to the future of your business and the initiatives you support.

Your strategy for attracting candidates needs to be backed up by a strong employer brand that shows you walk the walk when it comes to the impact you have on your employees and the planet.


Strong culture

There are two parts to this. Firstly, candidates want to see that you have a collaborative professional culture where everyone has a say in how the business is run and their voice is heard.

Secondly, they want to see a strong social culture, with the chance to develop personal relationships through social events in and outside of work.


Work-life balance

This is probably the biggest shift we’ve seen in the graduate market. You used to find graduates working 12-15 hours a day to prove themselves and impress leadership, but this generation doesn’t feel the need to do that.

They want to know you trust them to do their jobs, with the freedom to manage their own time — even if that involves having an extended lunch and making up the hours in the evening. It’s all about empowering them to make those choices without being under scrutiny or chained to a desk.


Benefits they actually want

The companies that are standing out, particularly in the current economic situation, are those offering benefits people genuinely care about.

What graduates really want is some practical help. Like energy support schemes if they’re struggling to pay staggering bills (especially if they’re working remotely), paid mental health sessions and gym memberships.

They don’t want to hear about your pension (they’re less likely to care about this than colleagues closer to retirement) or holiday allowance; they’re a given, so don’t wrap them up as part of a benefits package.



How to retain graduates and benefit from your investment


Companies sometimes avoid hiring graduates in case they leave before their upfront investment pays off. While there is a risk that you’ll spend time and money developing graduates then lose them to a competitor, it is a bit of a misconception.


“57% of UK employers retain graduates after 5 years”


The Graduate Recruitment Bureau found that UK employers retain 57% of their graduate intake after 5 years, with the average length of stay in a first job at 4.5 years. This gives them plenty of time to contribute to your strategy and bottom line.


Our top tips for retaining graduates:


1) Make room for progression

understand how they want to grow in your company and put a 1, 3, 5 year plan in place to show how it’ll happen.


2) Offer the right support

you can hire incredibly talented graduates who are well trained in certain skills, but that doesn’t mean they’re a finished product.


3) Give them autonomy

they’ll be keen to make an impact and get stuck in, so you need to avoid any form of micromanagement. Give them clear accountabilities and trust them to deliver against them.


4) Create opportunities to learn

they’ve just spent years learning, and that passion for growing doesn’t stop when they join the workforce. How are you creating the space for them to learn and grow the way they want to?


5) Support with mentorship

it could be an internal or external mentor, but either way it needs to be someone who can dedicate the time needed to support their growth and help them navigate some of the new challenges they’ll face when joining the world of work.



The graduate market is saturated. Who holds the power?


Graduate skills are in high demand. According to the UK government, 86.7% of graduates are currently employed. In 2021, 65% of working-age graduates were in high-skilled jobs compared to 24% of non-graduates.

For employers, the market is incredibly competitive. In 2020, a report by Universities UK found that there are 16 million graduate jobs in the UK but only 15 million graduates capable of doing them.

With the number of graduate vacancies predicted to increase by 22%, this creates an even bigger gap between supply and demand. This is why it’s so important for companies to promote themselves to the right graduates, particularly if they’re not as established as other big named brands who will be targeting the same candidate pool.

If you’re going to stand out, you need a very compelling proposition.

We experienced the benefit of this first-hand when we helped Tokamak Energy run a graduate recruitment fair for 1,100 physics students. We were able to share their roadmap to commercial fusion energy by the 2030s, so candidates could not only see the growth opportunities for them but the way in which they could contribute to a mission that will change the world as we know it.

Overall, we’re operating in a candidate’s market. That may shift as companies tighten their belts (which could result in fewer opportunities becoming available), but from an employer’s perspective, there is a very clear benefit to hiring and retaining graduates — and a need to appeal to them in the right way.

Bond are a trusted partner for Tokamak Energy:


TE asked Bond to represent the company at the University of York / White Rose Industrial Physics Academy 2022 Recruitment Fair as we were the ‘logical choice’ internally & externally to bring fusion energy & Tokamak Energy to life for 1100 Physics students, from Bachelors to PhD level.

We have supported other key projects on behalf of TE:

  • National labs based in US, launching operations to benefit from the US tax systems
  • Created links with academic institutions in the UK and across Europe
  • Women in Engineering events

“The logical choice” to engage graduates on behalf of our partners.