From time to time I have written about the importance of keeping young people who have graduated from our Universities and College in the area after they have finished their studies. They bring energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas which will be a great benefit to our local economy.
There are two main reasons students usually give for not staying around – the cost of housing and the lack of graduate level jobs.
A few years back I nearly persuaded the then Council administration to offer a Council Tax holiday to new graduates. That would have sent out a clear signal that they are valued and would have done something to help the housing cost issue.
Now there’s a new initiative which could vastly improve the links between business and the educational institutions and grow our talent base. A combination of Bath Spa University, the University of Bath, Bath College and the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership has been awarded challenge competition funding by the Office for Students.
Together they have formed the GradTalent Development Agency which will help graduate retention by providing businesses with a special service to help recruit, retain and develop local talent.
It’s a 3-year project which will be working with mainly small and medium sized companies, some of whom might never have considered employing a graduate. The Agency will explain how taking on a graduate could help develop their business, then working on the recruitment and development of the person once they are in the job.
The scheme will involve employment opportunities of anything over 16 hours a week and they will even work with companies to create a rotation opportunity where a couple of smaller employers might want to share the talents of a new graduate.
This is not a massive project, aiming to develop just 25 opportunities for this year’s graduates and 75 opportunities for next year’s. But it’s a great start and will actually put some resources into getting the system up and running. Hopefully many more businesses will get involved and even if they don’t take on one of the graduates it will generate much more conversation about a potentially really important injection of fresh ideas into our economy which will benefit the whole community.