When UK universities were given the opportunity to raise their tuition fees to £9,000 in 2012, many people thought this was the end of price hikes – unfortunately not. In July 2016, government ministers once again announced a 2.8 per cent rise in tuition fees from 2017.
However, to the surprise of many, this does not seem to have significantly put off prospective students. As of January 2017, more than 564,000 people had applied to UK higher education courses. The pool of graduates leaving university in search of employment therefore remains huge, providing businesses of any size with a great number of educated individuals to choose from. But is graduate recruitment a good strategy for SMEs?
Why are businesses scared?
Many businesses have reservations towards hiring graduates. Perhaps they will struggle to shake off their university lifestyle, or they’ll be unwilling to work 9 to 5. More often and perhaps more importantly, employers also fear that the graduate’s degree won’t be of use in the real business world. If this be the case, they will need considerable help to learn – taking up valuable time that many small businesses can’t afford to give.
Further still, 36 per cent of employers were found to believe that there is no benefit in hiring recent graduates. However, if SMEs want to grow, and on a budget, this view needs to be seriously re-considered.
Firstly, and often overlooked, graduates understand the competition and difficulty of finding employment after leaving university. As a result of this, and their lack of working experience, they are often more amenable to accepting modest salaries. The average salary for graduates ranges from £18,000-£24,000 depending on location.
And although you may need to spend more time, and sometimes more money teaching them, this should be considered as a long-term investment that you will reap rewards from in the future when they have been trained.
The mind frame of graduates is also something to consider. Being their first professional job for the majority, graduates can also often have stronger motivation and subsequent work ethic than those who have already been in professional employment for years. So goes the saying in recruitment – ‘Recruit for attitude and train for skill’.
This youth can also be used to your advantage. In any small business, it is crucial to have a range of ages within the company to bring different perspectives to the table, and graduates can certainly offer, this irrespective of your target audience.
There is also a benefit to having no or little previous employment under their belt, for it is less likely that you will have to get rid of unattractive habits they have developed over the years. They can be your blank canvas on which you to create your perfect employee.
And this is perhaps the greatest benefit of hiring recent graduates. Coming straight out of university, they are more than familiar with and receptive to an educational culture. This can provide employers with a far easier task to teach them about the business and its industry.
At Ve, we frequently hire graduates for this reason, witnessing them grow as people and employees in the company. They truly are the core of our company, fuelling our conversion optimisation solutions that are helping businesses large and small to grow.
With the right development in scheme, you can transform a recent graduate into a hugely valuable member of the team. So chose your graduate wisely, and you could gain a fantastic long-term investment for your small business.
Kate Rogerson is senior trends writer at Ve Interactive.
Further reading on graduate recruitment
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards 2017, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!