Aug 17

Making the most of graduate talent

Posted: 15 August 2017

graduateIt’s time for social care employers to  take advantage of the vast pool of graduate talent out there. Hosting a graduate straight out of university, through Skills for Care’s Graduate Management programme, brings fresh thinking and skills that can only add a new dimension to your organisation.

But how do you make the most of your graduate, and what is it like to be the placement manager?

Danny Gibb, Head of Practice Development at Hertfordshire County Council, discusses his personal experience of being a placement manager for Skills Care’s 2017 graduate programme. He reflects on the mutual benefits that the graduate programme has brought to his organisation and the graduate.

This was my first experience of directly employing a graduate trainee. The direct support and guidance provided by Skills for Care was very helpful in preparation for their arrival, including the practical arrangements around employment, salary, terms and conditions, but also in helping me to focus on planning ahead for the activity our graduate would undertake.

It’s important that both parties are getting something positive from the relationship. We agreed on what we both wanted to achieve.  Whilst we found it may not be helpful to be overly detailed or regimented about the year ahead, some key aims and objective were identified, which in turn were used to check that things are progressing.

How much support did the graduate need?

Our graduate came with experience, a desire to progress his career, and it was clear that he already had a level of understanding key aspects of social care. This experience, coupled with a great work ethic and positive attitude, meant that he very quickly integrated into the team. He formed good relationships with colleagues and was able to positively contribute to team activity.

I treated our graduate the same as any other member of my team, offering support when required, recognising good work, reflecting on practice and ensuring opportunities to participate in a range of work encompassing the exciting and challenging and the mundane and repetitive. Above all, the graduate needs to have ‘real’ work experience.

I found it really satisfying being able to support an enthusiastic and motivated individual, to watch them grow and develop into a highly regarded, confident and productive workforce professional.

Our graduate is going from strength to strength. He was offered a full-time position during the course of his placement and is currently undertaking a one-year secondment as a Senior Workforce Development Officer leading on safeguarding and Mental Capacity Act.

Overall, this has been a wholly positive experience for all concerned and I wouldn’t hesitate to have another Skills for Care graduate in the future and recommend the opportunity to other employers.

Danny’s top five tips to bring out the best in a graduate

  • Communicate regularly with your graduate.
  • Provide a wide range of experiences. Never take them for granted or use them to do the ‘dull stuff’ others seek to avoid.
  • Make your expectations clear.
  • Prepare to give, and receive, honest feedback.
  • Don’t be greedy. Give your graduate opportunities to get involved with activity outside of your team if this supports their development.

Our new Skills for Care Graduate Management Programme runs in partnership with the NHS Leadership Academy and starts in January 2018. Employers can apply to host a graduate until the closing date of 3 October 2017. Find out more about hosting, and applying for, a graduate for 2018 here.