Five top tips for improving graduate development
Off the back of our newly launched Development Survey, ISE Research Analyst, Samuel Gordon shares five recommendations for improving graduate development in 2018.
1. Communicate with students
Graduates are less prepared for work than they have been in the past. For example, the share of school students with a job has dropped by half over the past twenty years. What’s more, only 39% of graduate intakes have self-awareness, and only 5% can manage up. It’s no surprise that managing graduate expectations is the top challenge for development professionals in 2018.
Sharing more insight with students should help them. Some employers are already doing this: 30% are either communicating their skills needs to students, or to help students articulate their existing skills. But more could be done to help young people better understand the learning curve, so they can hit the ground running.
2. Be more strategic
Long-term development planning is rare. Only 12% of organisations plan the development needs of their graduates more than two years in advance. However, 71% of organisations do employability outreach with students who are at least three years away from entering the workforce. Organisations who don’t know their own needs may find it tricky to fully prepare students for the future.
Employers are starting to manage lots of development journeys too. Nearly half (46%) of employers plan to use apprenticeships to professionally develop their graduates in 2018, and 49% of graduate development teams are also responsible for intern development. Having a development strategy can help to avoid duplication of training, and to tailor training to different types of hires.
3. Be more rigorous
Improving the performance of graduates is a priority for employers with 66% taking steps to change their programmes in order to enhance performance last year. The most common changes were to skills training, manager training, and the use of technology for learning.
Employers could be making better use of performance data to inform this work. Only 23% use graduate performance scores to measure the financial value of their programmes and 32% use them to assess if their junior hires are ready to progress. What’s more, even though graduates have issues with self-awareness, 45% of employers rely on graduate self-assessments for performance reviews. A more rigorous approach could help organisations to maximise their impact.
4. Engage stakeholders
Engaging managers is the second biggest challenge for development professionals in 2018. It is also becoming more important, rising three places in our list of top challenges since last year. However, only 31% of employers host regular group forums for managers to help them share concerns and best practice. Organisations should review which methods of engagement are most effective.
This is true of engaging stakeholders in general with 75% of employers involving senior stakeholders in the design of their programmes, yet only 49% involving them in sign-off processes for graduates. Development teams should be making sure that the needs of their stakeholders are being met and that they buy into the goals of development programmes.
5. Use data
Finally, better analytics could help organisations to support graduates more effectively. As it stands, 62% of employers don’t know if there is a correlation between their support for professional exams and their hires’ exam grades. Also, 74% don’t know the impact of strengths-based recruitment on the development needs of their graduates and 34% of organisations don’t know if they have issues retaining minority groups. More focussed use of data could help organisations improve their decision-making.
There is scope for graduate development to become more strategic, rigorous, joined-up and better communicated in future. All stakeholders have a role to play in achieving this. Employers will need to stay aware of the trends and to continue acting on them.