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FEATURE


NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED… Much has been made of the skills gap that employers claim to be encountering in their


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Graduates go to university because they believe that it’s the path to success but then they often struggle to get a relevant job or secure a place on a graduate


scheme, which is challenging when you have debts of £40,000 to pay off.


search for graduate talent. Corporations such as Facebook have spoken out about the lack of graduates – British ones in particular – who are adequately prepared to work for them. With such a constantly evolving sector, is it really fair for companies to expect graduates to be ready-made experts? Cloud hosting and colocation company UKFast doesn’t think so, and CEO, Lawrence Jones, has launched a scheme designed to address the mismatch…


he initiative has seen us take on 50 new graduates over the summer in the fi rst stage of the scheme. Investing £4.5 million over two years, we are offering starting salaries of £19,000, rising to £30,000 with bonuses, and providing a purpose-built training facility for the new recruits. With in-house and external training provided, the scheme aims to develop skills and is more intensive than a typical apprenticeship. Graduates go to university because they believe that


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it’s the path to success but then they often struggle to get a relevant job or secure a place on a graduate scheme, which is challenging when you have debts of £40,000 to pay off. This isn’t an apprenticeship and it’s not a typical graduate scheme; it’s a real training programme with real salaries and bonuses. The differences start at the very beginning. We recruit graduates based on their attitudes, seeking a match between the candidate’s and the company’s cultural values rather than imposing boundaries based on their degree. In essence, no industry experience is required. Instead, graduates must demonstrate how they are dynamic, innovative, passionate, professional and supportive − the fi ve UKFast core values. I am a fi rm believer that for a fi rm to be successful, it must fi rst get the right people on board. Skills can be developed. When you have a person with the passion to prove their capabilities, they absorb knowledge quickly. Immersion in the company culture plays a big part in our graduate scheme. In the fi rst week’s induction, graduates are taken on a team-building trip to the company’s outward bounds training centre in Snowdonia. Here, they spend two days getting to know one another; cooking meals as a group, supporting each other on a climb up Mount Snowdon, building (and sometimes sinking) rafts in the nearby lake and relaxing in the house and grounds. It is an effective way of fi nding out more about the new recruits outside of a normal working environment, while the company’s head of training and development can look out for the more


22 GRADUATE RECRUITER


supportive, team-orientated individuals who we believe make the best managers in the future. As they progress through the scheme, graduates embark on an accelerated learning course to get them trained up and ready to take on a role in sales or account management within three months. Their experience encompasses all aspects of the company, and tours around the company’s data centres are a fi rm favourite in developing a deep understanding of the products we deliver. In the sales department, graduates get a real grasp of the brand and are welcomed as part of the overall team, even attending company fi lm screening nights and other similar events. We feel our approach demonstrates the benefi ts of discarding traditional requirements around degree or academic credentials in favour of attitude and cultural values. The full immersion into company culture and realistic salaries provides an invaluable experience. Why complain that young people don’t have the right skill set when you can actually invest in them and tailor their skills to suit your business? It’s a win-win situation.


How UKFast’s graduate scheme differentiates itself:


• Starting salaries of £19,000, rising to £30,000 with bonuses.


• In-house and external training including the use of a purpose-built training facility for new recruits.


• A team-building trip to the company’s outward bounds training centre in Snowdonia during the fi rst week’s induction.


• An accelerated learning course to get graduates trained up and ready to take on a role in sales or account management within three months.


• Tours around the company’s data centres to develop an understanding of the company’s products.


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