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Align Graduate Recruitment Programs to Organizational Vision

Graduate recruitment programs should not be a tick-box exercise. Read our best tips on how to attract graduates and retain them in your organization.

Since the last decade, there has been a growing number of graduates every year resulting in an intense competition for internships and graduate programs where there are more applicants per vacancy. However, digital transformation has automated many tasks that would have been initially assigned to graduates as a way of introducing them to the workplace. These changes are occurring at all levels of business and have decreased the number of graduates that companies can recruit and develop.

Long before the pandemic, organizations have been preparing themselves for new technologies and systems that will position them as leaders in their fields of expertise. These inventions and new trends require a different set of skills and knowledge that are not easily attainable in the traditional university’s academic program.

For example, in South Africa, the biggest graduate recruitment drives are in the financial services and engineering sector. On average, a single company can recruit between 200 and 400 graduates each year for a three-year program; but only place between 20% and 35% of those graduates onto permanent employment. This has significantly changed the mindset of a lot of graduates because they are slowly realizing that there is not enough room for all of them.

What happens now? The best and the brightest start looking for opportunities outside their current graduate programs, which means that there is a growing lack of loyalty to these programs and ultimately their employers. Can we then afford to apply the same traditional approach to fresh graduate hiring and development? Furthermore, are we to assume that succession planning for our graduates should remain the same? Not only is the place of work changing, but the new people coming into these places are also changing. We cannot attract and develop them the same way we did in previous generations.

The best and the brightest start looking for opportunities outside their current graduate programs, which means that there is a growing lack of loyalty to these programs and ultimately their employers.

The growth and change in the industry have affected the workforce demand and skill requirements. As an example, the banking sector has changed drastically due to the rise of e-commerce activities, requiring fewer bank tellers and more actuarial scientists or data analysts.

Additionally, the engineering sectors developed highly intelligent machines to do the heavy lifting — resulting in fewer numbers of scientists needed and forcing colleges and universities to change their approach to academia to adjust to the evolving demand.

Big traditional companies that have large graduate intakes are not the ones necessarily driving these technological changes. In fact, it is usually the more flexible and smaller enterprises that are leading these, and they do not require a lot of graduates to make breakthroughs.

So, where does this leave current graduates? Can your organization afford to stay rigid in the ever-changing world? If so, at what costs? Below are some tips to attract and retain top candidates in your organization.

  1. Widen your prospect candidate pool for graduate programs

    In South Africa, there are 26 universities and 50 Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes – all of which are producing thousands of graduates each year. Granted that the various institutions cater to different aspects of the organization’s needs — it is important to ensure that you are recruiting the right ones by taking into account the necessary skills they can learn in the program. To make the plan more targeted, identify their interest, capability, and learning goals before the placement. This will also help increase the diverse initiatives that your organization is preparing itself for, with the emphasis being on the objective tools used for selection.

  2. Create a targeted graduate development program

    Use every available insight to measure your strong performers and understand how those insights fit into your overall organizational strategy. The more objective the insights, the better they can be adapted to your unique organizational needs. If your graduate program is a tick-box exercise that does not add to your strategic vision, you will most likely find it difficult to retain your graduates as they recognize their individual value and are willing to look for other opportunities elsewhere.

  3. Understand and drive engagement

    How do you know when your graduates are engaged? Unlike other employees, they do not have the experience by which you can measure their performance or knowledge of the role. What they have is aspiration and learning potential. You can use these to drive engagement and convert it to high performance. It is important to note that there is a fine line between enthusiasm and engagement. Objectivity is required to ensure that you are measuring the right attribute.

Every organization needs an objective and robust graduate solution that will drive the quality of hire and candidate retention regardless of the size of your organization. Learn more about SHL’s Graduate Solutions and how it can help optimize your graduate recruitment plan.

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Seotlelo Rapolai

Seotlelo Rapolai is a Customer Experience Specialist at SHL in South Africa and is dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive positive experiences across all our services and products. Having spent almost a decade of his professional experiences in various roles HR, Project Management, and Sales, he has experienced most aspects of what makes an organization successful and some of the behaviors associated with the successes.

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