Key messages for attracting and retaining graduate talent in the South West

Following Gradsouthwest’s work with DCBC over the past few months, June 30th saw over 100 people gather at Plymouth University to discuss talent retention and attraction at the DCBC quarterly conference.

Charlie Ball, from Prospects, gave an overview of talent migration from a national perspective. We also heard from our partners Unlocking Potential with Nicky Luke speaking about ‘recruitment being like fishing’. Sharron Robbie, of Devon & Cornwall Training Network discussed the use of training for retention, and employer-led developments in the Building Plymouth project were provided by Julian Phillips of Midas.

Click HERE for the key messages from the sessions.

Talented people needed to build careers in region

FindingWMN-Article-30Mar17-02 the right skills for the job is no easy task in the South West.

In 2016, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that there were over 70,000 job openings in the South West region and around 17,000 of them difficult to fill because of a lack of skilled recruits.[1]

The number of job vacancies going unfilled, is reported to be linked to candidates lacking appropriate skills, and the FSB (2015) found that this is the third biggest barrier to growth.

Devon and Cornwall Business Council are therefore partnering with Gradsouthwest and the Western Morning News to develop a campaign to promote the region as an excellent place to build a career, with the aim of attracting and retaining highly skilled people.

With unfilled vacancies, and untapped potential, business growth and our continued prosperity will require employers to retain and upgrade the skills they already have, and to attract more highly skilled people to work within the South West.

Aligned with the South West Growth Charter’s commitment to “invest in productive people and retain talent within our region”, our first job is to develop a strong and inclusive partnership of employers, educators and regional champions.

Launched at DCBC’s spring budget conference, our aim is to focus on the key industries in which we excel, where the potential for building a career here is assured.

Therefore, we want you to join us and showcase your opportunities in comparison to those in other major cities, with the added benefits of living and working in the South West. In return you will be part of a national campaign, and receive help to attract, retain and develop the talent that your business needs.

Ben Rhodes, CEO of DCBC said “This campaign will need to be different and innovative in its approach. We need to inspire talented people to build their careers in the SW and to do that we need inspiring companies. We aim to champion the best companies from across the SW, to highlight those who have already chosen to build their careers here and to seek out those who might”

Dr Deborah Watson, director of Gradsouthwest, the region’s specialist graduate job board said “retaining graduate skills in the area is crucial for future jobs and business growth and recent graduates are often unaware of the careers open to them here in the region. Our aim is to make businesses consider recruiting new talent, and to encourage students to work here.”

As well as graduate skills, we recognise employers are also keen to employ individuals who have developed their skills base throughout their working history.

If this sounds like something you want to get involved with, to begin to overcome the skills and productivity shortage not only in your business, but also here in the region, please get in touch via / or tag us with #TalentSW and we will contact you with a range of opportunities and a timetable of activities.






Graduate Recruitment Partnership Reaches for the Skies!

Gradsouthwest, the south west graduate jobs board, is pleased to announce a new partnership with the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) – bringing great graduate jobs in aerospace, defence and advanced engineering industries to graduates wanting to work in south west England.


As a high tech, highly skilled industry, aerospace encompasses a broad range of high value disciplines such as engineering, science, project management, production, service, training and finance. It remains at the forefront of new research and development and requires a constant flow of high calibre graduates with expertise in robotics, autonomous systems, composites, ceramics, avionics and other high worth technologies.

With strong campus links, Gradsouthwest is well placed to assist, attracting candidates from a wide range of universities and disciplines who share a desire to work in the south west. The new partnership will provide WEAF members with a tried and tested way to access this talent pool at preferential rates.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Deborah Watson, Director of Gradsouthwest, said:

“We are delighted to be working with WEAF. With a world-leading aerospace and defence sector here in south west England, it makes sense to ensure that companies have access to the best graduate talent available, and graduates are aware of what is on their doorstep – and here at Gradsouthwest we aim to do both.”

Simon Young, Chief Executive of WEAF, said:

“Graduate talent is vitally important to WEAF members and we are very pleased to be working with Gradsouthwest to support our members to recruit the graduate skills they need to grow.”

To find out more about recruiting graduates to the aerospace sector, visit or contact WEAF via

Gradsouthwest makes National Online Recruitment Awards Finals

We are extremely proud to have been named as Finalists for the 16th annual Broadbean National Online Recruitment Awards.


From over 25,000 nominations for almost 600 separate recruitment websites, Gradsouthwest has been named as a Finalist by the NORA Shortlisting Judges. In the category BEST REGIONAL JOB BOARD Gradsouthwest makes a short-list of 5.

A final judging panel will now assess all Finalists from a job seeker’s perspective, and select this year’s Winners, to be revealed in mid November.

For more information see:

Wish us luck!

New Partnership to Serve West Country Businesses


Gradsouthwest, the South West’s graduate jobs board, has announced a new partnership with Business West, the leading provider of business support services in the South West.

The new partnership will provide local businesses with a quality service to access an unlimited pool of graduate talent. To celebrate this new partnership, recruiters in the West of England are invited to take advantage of a special 10% discount using code BW012016 until the end of July with Gradsouthwest.

The partnership is a fitting way to mark Gradsouthwest’s first anniversary as a private company. Founded in 2001 by university careers departments, the service is now managed by the former staff team who are passionate about the value graduates bring to the local economy.

Retaining strong campus links, Gradsouthwest attracts candidates from a wide range of universities and disciplines who share a desire to work in the South West.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Deborah Watson, Director of Gradsouthwest, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Business West and to feature as one of their impressive suite of business solutions. As a small business ourselves, we recognise just how critical high quality business support can be, and welcome the opportunity to assist other businesses in accessing talent to drive innovation and growth.”

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, said:

“Gradsouthwest has an excellent reputation and is led by an experienced and passionate team. Youth unemployment remains a barrier to long term economic growth, and businesses tell us that the skills gap is hurting them day in day out. This platform addresses this issue by linking our young talent with businesses of all sectors and sizes. I am pleased to welcome them to our extensive network of partners.”

To find out more about Gradsouthwest, visit , or contact the Business West Skills Team via

Gradsouthwest becomes Business Provider on West of England Growth Hub

We are proud to announce that we have recently become a business support provider on the West of England Growth Hub, helping our local business community to grow sustainably.  Growth Hub Partner Logo

The resource works by creating a two-way referral and collaboration process between the West of England Growth Hub and the existing local business support infrastructure. Becoming a support provider to the West of England Growth Hub gives us the opportunity to offer our ‘one stop shop’ graduate recruitment service to a wider range of businesses.

Gradsouthwest features, alongside other services, on the fantastic new West of England Growth Hub website. It’s a great place to find out about local providers – and we recommend that businesses check it out to see how they might get involved and benefit.

The West of England Growth Hub is powered by Business West for The West of England LEP.

For more information visit: or email:


Snow, sun and international sponsorship at the University of Bath


With the appearance of snow and sunshine, our day at the University of Bath’s Recruitment Fair on Tuesday 26th April was a similar mix. Although some final year students were busy completing their dissertation, those that attended the fair were well prepared for seeking employment.

Students from all disciplines came to visit us on the day, including many Masters students due to finish in September. It was also fantastic to meet some of the companies advertising graduate jobs with Gradsouthwest including Hilti, AECOM, SelectScience and Antech as well as companies we have helped in the past including Dyson, PWC and Sparx.

One frequent question from international students was whether our clients provide sponsorship. With many international students due to graduate in the next few months, they would like to use their knowledge and skills in the local area but were concerned over the ability to get sponsorship and this is an issue affecting many international students.
Gradsouthwest advised those students from the University of Bath that the ability for a company to sponsor will vary. Many of the larger graduate recruiters will have the time and resource to provide sponsorship whereas many smaller companies will not have the resource and expertise. We would advise international students to search the graduate jobs available and on finding a job of interest, to check the job description. If there is no information about sponsorship, then visit the recruiter’s website. Many corporate companies that run annual graduate programmes will have this information available on their careers website. Where information about sponsorship is not available then we would advise contacting the graduate recruiter directly.
We would encourage graduate recruiters to make sponsorship information apparent in their job adverts.
If you want to find out more about sponsorship for international students visit:
Fiona Boyd, Gradsouthwest

Who are the Top South West Graduate Recruiters?


South West employers are predominantly SMEs (businesses with under 250 employees), so many graduate jobs will be within these small and medium companies who recruit one or two people each year. There are however some graduate recruiters here in the South West that recruit a significant number of recent graduates every year – and some work by The Complete University Guide has uncovered who they are!

The top South West private sector graduate recruiters are: Babcock, Renishaw, Rolls-Royce, Specsavers, Atkins, Boots, Dyson, Nationwide and PwC – each of them recruiting to more than 20 graduate-level posts a year.

Companies like Capita, Enterprise, General Electric, JP Morgan, BAE Systems, Deloitte, Intel, IPL, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, Lloyds Pharmacy, MBDA, Tesco, and Zurich also add significant numbers of recent graduate-level jobs here in the South West.

Significant numbers of graduates are also employed in the region by the MOD, Royal Navy, Met Office, the larger County and City Councils (Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire and Bristol City recruit about 15 graduates each, with Somerset, Wiltshire and Plymouth City a further 10 each) and the Universities (recruiting more than 60 between them).

There are over 40 organisations that each recruit more than 10 graduates every year – accounting for over 670 jobs between them.

Here at Gradsouthwest we take pride in helping SMEs recruit graduates – and in helping graduates find the wonderful SMEs recruiting in our region.  We also help the larger recruiters looking to target those wanting to work here in the South West. If you want to know more about how we can help you recruit great graduates then do get in touch via


Dr Deborah Watson


More information:

Data compiled by Complete Universities Guide, using Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey (2013–14) conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Job Advert Tips

Your job advert is competing with hundreds of others. What you write and how you write it will make a big difference to the response you get.

Use our experience to get results:

Job title
Take care over your job title. It’s the first – and often only – thing candidates will see. Make sure it describes the role, and if possible, the field of work. For example, ‘Events Administrator in PR’ is likely to get more interest than ‘Administrator’.  Keep it factual though. Candidates are put off by job titles that read ‘Earn £££££’s’ etc.

Offer a decent starting salary (we recommend a minimum of £17,000) and state it explicitly in your advert. Candidates are wary of jobs where there is no salary information. Don’t offer a salary dependent upon experience as this may discriminate against younger candidate.

Training and development
Candidates look for training and development opportunities. Tell candidates what they can expect. It doesn’t have to be a formal training programme but some indication of your commitment to training and development will attract candidates.

Be clear where the job is located – it’s often a deciding factor for candidates. Please don’t specify where candidates should live – we think that if they meet your criteria, that’s for them to decide.

You know what you want from candidates but have you been clear about what you can offer in return? List the benefits you offer – they don’t have to be monetary – it could be free parking, flexible working etc.

For more of our recruiter tips visit:

Dr Deborah Watson
Deborah is a graduate and a Director of Gradsouthwest.  She has worked with universities and businesses for a number of years, building partnerships to support innovation, economic development and to get graduates into great jobs.

What is HEAR? A quick guide for employers.


HEAR is short for Higher Education Achievement Report, and it’s aim is to better capture the achievements of students by showing the full range of opportunities undertaken at University.  This includes academic work, extra-curricular activities, prizes and employability awards, voluntary work and offices held in student union clubs and societies that have been verified by the institution.

Why do employers need to know about HEAR?

“We are not interested in the degree classification – the whole person is of far more interest to us. We need people who can take responsibility and are able to pitch in as and where necessary.” (SME employer – taken from

Well, a simple, standardised report containing verified achievements can provide employers with value added material to help them select and recruit the right candidates, including:

  • a more detailed academic achievement records that provide more than the degree classification and enables employers to understand more about the study undertaken.
  • non-academic achievements that have been verified can tell you more about the person, their wider experience and their likely fit with your organisation.
  • a context for interviews, opening up areas for discussion about the candidate

Currently, 90 universities and colleges are implementing or planning to implement the HEAR. This includes 32 institutions who have already issued 427,000 HEARs to students – and this number is increasing every year.

So if a candidate provides you with their HEAR, you’ll now know what it is and why you should read it.

If you want to know more go to:


Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.