Graduates contribute approximately £1 billion of added value to the UK economy on an annual basis, according to research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).
Adding Value Beyond Measure argues that at a time when ongoing economic uncertainty has led to many organisations adopting limited graduate recruitment strategies and in a few cases even retracting them, the business case for graduate recruitment programmes is a strong as ever.
Invest time and resources into graduate recruitment and development, it argues, and the investment will be repaid many times.
Graduates develop faster than other employees and add value to an organisation more quickly. They hit the road running and demonstrate leadership qualities at an accelerated rate, and have the skills to articulate ideas and stimulate change.
The research also indicates that the abandoning of a graduate recruitment programme is largely seen as a risk that could lose the organisation a whole raft of value added benefits.
In particular, graduate recruitment is seen as an invaluable investment in a talent pipeline. This is more cost-effective than recruiting from the wider-market place at the next recruitment level up, according to Tom Smith, HR Director of JP Morgan.
“If you think the graduate marketplace is expensive, the marketplace at vice president and above is ten times, even 50 times more expensive! So to bring somebody in from another organisation is going to cost you a lot of money.
“We would much rather build our own talent pipeline. Do you do a Chelsea or do you have your own academy?"
According to the AGR research, the JP Morgan attitude is the correct one. ‘Growing your own’ is better value than ‘oven-ready’ graduates. Graduates who are nurtured and shaped within the organisation are likely to stay with the organisation longer and be more aligned with the values of the organisation.
But at the same time, the AGR acknowledges that graduate recruiters are under increasing pressure to demonstrate the business values their organisations derive from investment in the recruiting and developing of graduates.
"I’m constantly being called upon to deliver metrics to prove our worth in the business,” said Liz Burton, Graduate Recruitment Manager of manufacturing giant GKN.
“All of the metrics are circulated up to the higher echelons of GKN. Everybody gets a copy of those every season."
According to Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, the challenge for graduate recruiters is to measure and clearly articulate their business case for the recruitment and development of graduates.
"As we see HR increasingly aligned with the commercial strategies of organisations a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the value of graduate recruitment to the business.,” he said. “Not just what graduate recruitment delivers, but the value of it."