Why graduate retention in Devon is a bonus for all

Posted on: 10 October 2014

by Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsibile for economy and growth

The benefits of graduate retention for regional economies are well documented.  Our recent Workforce Skills Survey shows that Devon businesses are well aware of the potential of graduates. In fact, nine out of ten businesses in the region perceive university leavers to be either very well or well prepared for work.

What’s more, companies that had taken on career starters registered high levels of satisfaction with their level of preparedness for work and very positive impact on their businesses.

It is fantastic to see local businesses taking on graduates and realising the benefits they can bring.

Young people in Devon are our future workforce and it is vital for our economic growth that we attract and retain young talent within the county.

We want to see more businesses coming forward and taking on graduates and we are committed to helping make this happen.

A great example of the benefits graduates can have for local businesses comes from LittlePod, a business selling responsibly sourced vanilla and chocolate ingredients.

Since opening, in 2010 owner and creator Janet Sawyer has taken on no fewer than ten graduates. She values the fresh ideas, talent and enthusiasm that graduates have brought to her business and says it’s been down to the help of the graduates she’s taken on that’s got the business to where it is today.

But it’s not just business that benefits, many graduates are tempted by London, as they feel this is where the most opportunity lies.

However, more often than not there is far more room to grow in areas like Devon where  thriving and entrepreneurial businesses and organisations give graduates the chance to progress so much faster and gain a greater range of experience.

Last year nearly 1,000 graduates from the University of Exeter stayed in the South West to begin their careers.   Janie Harper, a graduate of the University of Exeter, was one of them.

Janie’s career path from university got off to a flying start when she applied for an internship through the University of Exeter’s Graduate Business Partnership programme.

From there she successfully applied for a paid internship post of Events Co-ordinator at Education Business Partnership – South West (EBP-SW).

Due to her success, at the end of her Internship she stayed on for another year. From here Janie was recruited by the CBI as a Member Executive.

Janie said:

“I decided to stay in the South West, and particularly Devon, because while I work hard, and often do long hours, I have the luxury at the end of a busy week to jump on my bike and head down the river or to the beach.  I get the best of all worlds.  Exeter has a quirky culture and lots of innovative businesses.  But I also get to work with regional and national companies across the South West and Wales.”

Knowing all this, some may find it surprising that although employers are well aware of the benefits that graduates can bring to their businesses, there is still a low level of graduate recruitment in Devon’s businesses.

At Devon County Council we have been looking at this from both sides in order to match up graduates with businesses across Devon.

Often the biggest challenge is that both students and employers do not know how best to engage with graduate recruitment schemes.

We are committed to increase graduate retention by making businesses aware of the pool of highly-qualified talent in Devon and encouraging them to employ graduates.

We also champion graduate employment schemes in cooperation with universities and colleges.

An example of this is in our support of the University of Exeter’s efforts to increase the number of graduates staying the South West.

The University is launching a campaign to promote graduate career opportunities in the South West this autumn, with the main purpose being to highlight graduate opportunities in the area and to provide local labour market information.

This is one of the schemes we lend our support to and we are fully committed to helping match up the skilled graduates with the flourishing businesses in the area for the benefit of all.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Devon County Council Employment and Skills team work please visit the Council’s website.  Or follow us at @DCCeconomy.

For more information on how to recruit University of Exeter students or graduates visit the University’s website.

Posted in: Business and Economy