Supporting the attraction, recruitment & retention of early career graduate talent to support businesses to scale up, innovate & become more productive.
The objective of Employability is to work collaboratively with scaling businesses in order to develop opportunities for our students to obtain work experience and to provide workforce talent. Many businesses are unaware of the range of support available to them and the value of graduate talent.

Employability have developed a comprehensive offer to tackle SME challenges, including; creating web resources, talent diagnostics & matching services, learning & development programmes, sector-based market intelligence, innovation placements.

Recent graduate placement schemes include:

- 42 x 6 week employer grants & graduate placements (via ‘Grads4D2N2’)
- 37 x 12 month employer grants & graduate placements (via UpScaler)
- Productivity through Innovation project has a target of 94 x 12 month graduate placements between 2019 – 2021
- 7 x 8 week internships and 19 x 12 month graduate placements in 2018/19 (ERDF Big House)
- 60 x 6 week internships

Many of the projects offer grants to incentivise SME’s to recruit talent in order to achieve a specific business objective, such as Scale up or innovate. However, our aim is to create value-added initiatives to support the business. Employability have developed a comprehensive business support offer and provide a range of talent solutions. Each initiative tackles a challenge that has been identified and have very clear and measurable objectives.

Stakeholders are Nottingham Trent University, SMEs and business support

Resources needed

A Project Manager to coordinate activity and Business Development Team (x3) to broker support to SMEs. Grant funding helps to subsidise graduate placement costs. Total over 3 years is £650k in grant funding to SMEs and £310k in staff costs. Most placements are part-funded by the SMEs.

Evidence of success

Employability engage a high percentage of employers due to the nature of what we do. By aligning externally funded projects with our team and working collaboratively across the Partnerships and Local Economic team, we have been able to not only extend our collective reach, but also to enhance the quality of our relationships. This in turn has resulted in repeat business and enhanced reputation both within the university and within the business community.

Difficulties encountered

Working with negative perceptions from SMEs about the value of working with unversities.

Potential for learning or transfer

Other universities in the UK are interested in how we are leveraging funding from externally funded projects to enhance graduate outcomes.
The integration of Employability projects into the wider business support offer of the university has been integral to the success achieved. There is potential to transfer learning about how this has been achieved, for example involving all relevant teams in funding bids and maintaining communications across different departments of institutions.
We are working diligently with SMEs to educate them on the attraction, selection and retention of our graduates, creating tool kits to help them through each step, these are on our talent website for any business to use to help them through the recruitment process. We then can follow up with more indepth one to one guidance and advice.
Graduate retention of NTU graduates in Nottingham has also steadily increased (increased 5.1% between 2014/15 and 2015/16). Could be of interest.

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Main institution
Nottinghm Trent University
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2017
End Date


Chris Pook Please login to contact the author.