Last Friday’s National Undergraduate Employability Awards welcomed employers, universities and students from up and down the country, all of whom have a vested interest in undergraduate employment. Being big believers in giving undergraduates excellent workplace opportunities, we were there too, and thought we’d bring you a snapshot of the main topics that dominated the speakers’ conversations:

Undergraduate employment is on the rise

Even for companies with small graduate intakes. 34.4% of companies recruiting 1-25 graduates offer up to seven placement opportunities annually. It’s no surprise that this number is on the rise, especially if the NUE Awards student finalists are anything to go by. Making huge contributions to the businesses they worked for in terms of innovation, sales performance and leadership ability, the finalists on Friday proved that we really should all be tapping in to this excellent source of talent.

Undergraduates feed the graduate pipeline

36.8% of industrial placement students gain places on the company’s graduate scheme. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, placements are an excellent way to get to talent early. The most comprehensive of selection processes won’t give you the insight into a person that an industrial placement will, making placement students (potentially) the ideal candidates for your graduate scheme.

And finally…what did Levi Roots have to say about the undergraduate employment market? Well, his comments focused on how throughout his career, from music to Dragon’s Den to restaurant owner, he has always stayed true to himself and his values. Good advice for graduates, but also thought provoking for us as employers.

When we’re scouting out the best students for our businesses, it’s important to remember that they are not going to be the finished product, especially not at undergraduate level. The best, most confident, intelligent, experienced, professional version of themselves that they present at your assessment centre will require more from you to allow them to become that person on a daily basis and not just in certain situations. They are looking for people that know more than they do to advise and support them throughout their early career, so make sure they have a mentor. Levi highlighted how, even now, he still looks to those with more experience to help him through the challenges of running businesses.

So overall, the undergraduate talent landscape is a positive one. Building bridges between academia and employment is a much talked about topic and it is great to see that so many companies, from small start-ups to large corporates, are contributing to improving these connections.