How are student development programmes changing?

Jan 21, 2021 | Development

As the Development Survey 2021 is launched, ISE’s Tristram Hooley looks at the existing evidence and considers what has changed during the year of Covid-19.

Is your organisation providing excellent development programmes for new graduates and apprentices? How have you dealt with the challenges and opportunities that the pandemic has thrown at you?

It was almost a year ago that we published the last ISE Development Survey. Back in March, we asked whether your organisation’s development programme was stuck in a rut? We noticed that there were some approaches to training and development that were widely used, but which had few enthusiasts. These included online learning, the provision of work-based qualifications and dedicated self-study time.

Since last March a lot has happened! Across the year ISE’s research has focused on issues related to recruitment. Most recently our recruitment survey identified three major trends:

  1. Recruitment processes have changed radically in response to Covid-19.
  2. Recruitment numbers have declined, but not collapsed.
  3. The future is likely to be challenging.


Implications for development

In our reports on the student employment sector during the Covid crisis we have only been able to explore student development at a fairly high level. During summer 2020 we found that

  • 31% of organisations were delaying their start dates to try and avoid having to induct and start work remotely.
  • 55% of organisations were planning to induct staff online.
  • 73% of organisations were shifting more of their learning and development activities online.

Everything we’ve learnt from our recruitment research and from our wider Covid bulletins leads us to expect that the way graduate development programmes, apprenticeships and school leaver programmes are organised will have changed as well.

We should be expecting to see development programmes shifting online, firms reconfiguring training, support and development to take account of the reality of home working and an overall change in what employers are looking for as the labour market feels the pressure of the crisis.


What should you be watching out for?

Last year’s data gives us some good insights into what student development is like in ‘normal’ times. This year I’ll be watching carefully to see if some of the following patterns change.

Last year…

  • The typical firm had one student developer for every ten hires that they employed each year and were spending £5,739 to develop each of their early career hires. This year development activities have probably got more complex to deliver, but belts have also got tighter, so it will be interesting to watch what happens to these figures.
  • The typical graduate received 19 days of training a year and the typical induction programme lasted for six days. We can expect that the way this time is organised will have changed over the last year, but will the overall amount of training and development have declined?
  • While online learning was widely used (by 88% of graduate employers and 85% of employers of school and college leavers) it was unloved by most. Around three quarters of the employers using online learning did not view it as one of the most impactful approaches. But, this year the context for online learning has shifted dramatically. Will this be enough to push online learning up the charts in terms of what employers view as having an impact on the performance of their hires?
  • The top three most desired skills for new hires last year were teamwork, interpersonal skills and listening skills. These all recognise the fact that interpersonal relationships underpin effective performance in most jobs. But, will the changing context of work during the lockdown mean that these kinds of interpersonal skills are more or less important?
  • Organisations reported that both graduate retention and school and college leaver retention were pretty high with 57% and 69% respectively staying with the organisation for at least five years. With the current pressure on the labour market we would probably expect retention to go up. On the other hand, some firms have had to make redundancies and this may also have an impact on retention.
  • Average salaries after three years were £40,000 for graduate and £27,500 for school and college leavers. While the average salaries are likely to have increased slightly, it would not be surprising if salaries stagnated in the current environment.


Development survey 2021

ISE has launched its development survey 2021. The survey has been revamped both to take account of Covid and following extensive consultation with members of the Research and Policy Steering Group.

The new survey is open until Monday 1 February. It will hopefully answer some of the question that I’ve posed in this blog. As ever the more responses we get, the better the quality of insights that we are able to offer you.

Complete the development survey

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