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The cost of training graduates: the business case for investing in talent

POSTED: 21st October 2014
IN: Guides
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Hiring graduates for your SME is a great way to improve your business and reap the benefits of an educated and driven workforce. These ambitious workers bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise cultivated during their time in further education, and proven track record for commitment.

undefinedBut for many small businesses, the higher starting salary and lack of on-the-job experience can lead to reservations – and these are not unfounded. Studies show that many employers fall short of providing their new hires with the support they need to get their careers off to a strong start – resulting in disengaged employees and, even worse, a high staff turnover rate.

There’s no denying that hiring graduates can be a gamble. In order to retain these ambitious and enthusiastic workers, employers need to designate a significant amount of time and money into giving them further education through training and continuing professional development (CPD).

In this article, we’ll run through the various costs associated with hiring and retaining committed graduates in order to investigate whether it’s really worth it.

Cultivate a committed workforce

If you want to get the most out of your employees, training is crucial. By offering your new recruits actionable workplace education, both your business and your employees are likely to thrive.

In a US study of graduate employment, more than 52 per cent of respondents who found jobs after graduating in 2012 and 2013 claimed that they did not receive any formal training at all in those positions. Things aren’t looking much brighter for graduates in the UK either. While employment is higher among the university educated, recent figures suggest that it’s not uncommon for graduates to find themselves ‘underemployed’ and working in jobs that are not related to their degree. Forty seven per cent of those who graduated in the last five years and are now employed are currently working in a ‘non graduate role’.

This should raise concerns not only for the employee, but also for the employers, as by failing to offer their staff adequate training and a promising future they’re running the risk of losing the most educated members of their team. 

Fuel graduate thirst for knowledge

Graduates usually enter their first job after university with extensive knowledge on a particular topic - but that’s not to say that they don’t need help developing their technical abilities and skills to fully support the company that they are working for.

New employees who possess an educational background need to feel challenged by the tasks that are designated to them. Once fears of limited progression begin to set in, it will become more and more difficult to keep hold of your most talented employees as they leave for a more promising future. In a worst case scenario, they may leave to go to a competitor.

Stay one step ahead

Employers can stand out above the rest by creating tailored training solutions for graduate recruits. Competition in the job market is fierce, not only for graduates hoping to step foot on the ladder, but also for employers who are looking to recruit the brightest of prospects.

By allowing their competitors to snap up the very best graduates - with training incentives and promises of progression – SMEs could find themselves lagging behind their forward-thinking rivals.

Reduce staff turnover

Having employees leave can be a nightmare for any business, and SMEs in particular can really feel the pinch. While employers can reassure themselves that there will be plenty of other applicants battling it out to fill the role, repeatedly having to replace staff can be a greater drain on your resources than nurturing the personnel in the first place.

It’s not uncommon for businesses to worry that they could spend time and money educating a graduate, only for them to leave and use their skills elsewhere. However, wouldn’t it be far worse to refrain from training employees only for them to stay within the business disengaged and underperforming? As Richard Branson advises, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

An investment in your people

The financial outlay that usually comes with developing staff can seem daunting, particularly for SMEs who often don’t have the surplus cash to fund training courses.

However, SMEs should consider whether there’s a real business case for hiring graduates in the potential return on investment form nurturing their development and earning their commitment.

With more uni-leavers than places on the top graduate schemes, SMEs stand in good stead for handpicking great graduate talent, and should be seriously considering how to prepare their next budget so that there’s funding available to attract the best talent. For those in a position to, it may be worth setting up a dedicated savings fund so that a training budget can be accumulated gradually. This way it will be less of a shock to the system when it is time to invest in courses or training programmes.

The risk of losing team members to competition will always be there, regardless of whether you invest time and money into your employees’ futures or not. However, if you want your business to succeed and grow, developing talented and committed members of staff on board is a must.

If you’d like to know more about how to nurture your business and make the most of your funds, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

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