graduate scheme
UK university students can enter the local workforce via a solid graduate scheme programme. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Graduate scheme programmes can be a good way to break into the working world after your undergraduate degree. The number of graduate jobs fell by 12% in 2020, according to the Institute of Student Employers — this results in growing competition for good starter jobs. If you’re one of the students looking out for structured options to enter the workforce, read on.

Why get into a graduate scheme programme?

Whether it’s in finance, management, human resources, or information technology, fresh graduates get the opportunity to learn from industry leaders in a fast-paced environment — while still getting paid. Think of it as a levelled-up internship where you’ll receive the training and guidance required to kickstart your career. Naturally, students who excel academically have a better chance of getting accepted.

graduate scheme

A graduate scheme position allows you to gain early work experience in large companies. Source: Rohan Thomson/AFP

So if you plan to apply for a graduate scheme programme in the UK next year — which begin in August or September 2022 — you should start planning your application now. Students may apply from the end of their second year, which is from June onwards. Deadlines are typically in November or December.

Prospects UK recommends getting your application in early — especially if you’re aiming for high-profile companies that attract competitive graduates. Here are five such companies offering graduate scheme programmes in the UK.

EY Actuarial Summer Internship

Located in Bristol, this is a golden opportunity for actuarial graduates looking to explore the corporate world of insurance. Final-year students based in the UK are welcome to apply, with the promise that you will be screened on more than just your grades. Your job scope will include collaborating to solve client challenges, networking to build relationships, as well as conducting data analysis and reporting.

Prisons – Graduate Leadership Development Programme

Unlocked is a graduate scheme unlike any other. Graduates will be a part of the UK prison system for two years, during which time they will train as a guard and become an officer. You will even get the chance to pursue placement with a top employer, get your Master’s (fully-funded), or venture into policymaking. You would be stationed in London, North West England, South East England, South West England, or the West Midlands.

graduate scheme

Graduate trainees may also gain the mentorship of Source: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety/AFP

FDM Graduate Cloud Computing Engineer

You will help large companies embrace their future with cloud, playing a key role from the set-up stage all the way to troubleshooting and problem-solving. Expect to apply your IT skills through the lenses of business and marketing in the Glasgow, Leeds, or London office. Bonus: You can even gain certifications to grow your career, such as the ISTQB Foundation and ITIL Foundation.

Sellafield Science, Technical & Maths Graduate Programme

Nuclear power company Sellafield invites STEM graduates to join its two-year graduate scheme across several industries: Business, Environmental, Safety Case, Safety Support, or Technical. With a starting salary well over 30,000 pounds and 25.5 days annual leave, it’s a pretty sweet first job in a critical field.

Trainee Health and Safety Inspector

If you’re looking for a career change that will allow you to stay in the UK, here’s an idea: become a HSE inspector. You will gain the practical skills to make all kinds of workplaces safe through this graduate programme, which welcomes any qualifications. Bonus: you will be signing up for a civil service job, which comes with good perks and stability.