According to the first ever Association of Graduate Recruiters Development Survey, published today, ‘by training, coaching and developing our hires better we can directly improve the performance of our organisations’. This is a defining belief of Discovery’s work, so we’ve put together a quick summary of the key findings for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to peruse the report yet…


Graduate hires typically make up 2.2% of all staff in the companies surveyed, and there are an average 21 graduate hires whose development is the responsibility of just 1 staff member. The survey also revealed that 18% of respondents cited business buy-in and resources as the greatest challenge they face in graduate development.

Development programme design

64% of employers outsource at least some of their soft skills training, but 75.7% handle the design and strategy of graduate programmes completely in-house. This suggests that employers feel relatively confident in the objectives of their programmes, but less able to deliver the training itself.

60.1% of employers use personality testing (mainly MBTI) in their programmes, but just 14.7% use these systems in assessing future potential.

When it comes to measurement of potential, this is undertaken by 95.7% of companies. It is achieved primarily through appraisals (89%) and specialist development centres (16.6%).

Skills development

The most unexpected yet significant skills gap was in self-awareness – although employers do not seem to expect graduates to bring significant work-related skills with them to their post-university roles, they report being surprised by the lack of self-awareness shown by their graduates.

It is not just graduates who lack key skills – only 47.6% of respondents train managers in how to support graduate hires, and where training does exist, it averages just 4.2 hours in duration.


According to the survey, the average graduate programme retention rate is 90.7%, yet the average retention over the following 3 years is just 61.8% – but why?

The report identified the 3 top reasons cited by graduates for leaving their current company:

  1. Higher salary with another employer (65.9%)
  2. Expectations of career progression not met (50%)
  3. Career change (45.1%)

This suggests that the management of graduate expectations and the development of self-awareness should be top of the graduate training agenda to promote strong retention.

The survey also showed that graduates who are former interns stay on average 6 months longer than those who are not, highlighting the importance of work experience initiatives.


Finally, the report demonstrated a deficit in measuring just how effective graduate schemes are: just 53.2% measure the average rates of progression, and 77% do not measure the impact of training on graduate productivity.

Don’t currently recruit graduates?

The 9 key skills identified by the report can form the basis for the development of all emerging talent:

  1. Managing up
  2. Dealing with conflict
  3. Negotiating/influencing
  4. Commercial awareness
  5. Business communication
  6. Self-awareness
  7. Problem-solving
  8. Interpersonal communication
  9. Teamwork

Watch this space for a more in-depth discussion of the AGR Development Survey which will come out later this week…