Key success factors for graduate development

We conducted research for a large South African financial services company recently, looking at graduate development and retention generally, but also looking to identify specific success factors for that company’s graduate development programme.

One of the key things that we identified was the importance of buy-in from line managers to developing the graduates. This insight affected both the way that we positioned the programme and the way that we structured it.

Firstly, an internal marketing campaign would look to provide line managers in the different business units with information on the graduate development programme in advance of it being rolled out, and would make the business case for graduate development.

Secondly, we recommended that the graduates be employed into permanent positions, and that they not be rotated through different business units during the development programme. We heard from several sources within the company that line managers were far more likely to nurture and develop a graduate if they knew they could keep them on their team.

Not everyone agreed that this was the best way to structure the programme – good arguments were put forward for rotating graduates (it exposes them to opportunities and leaders in different parts of the business, prepares them as potential future leaders), and for fixed term contracts (allowing both grad and business to feel each other out before committing).

How do you structure your graduate development programmes? Do you rotate the grads through different business units? Do you offer fixed term or permanent contracts? And how do you find that this affects buy-in from your line managers?

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