Grow your own graduate!

Gradsouthwest is pleased to announce the launch of a new service for businesses to advertise their higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies in South West England. Higher and degree apprenticeships help employers tailor graduate-potential candidates to their business needs through on-the-job and academic training. They also give people opportunities to study for a degree while they work.


The Governments’ ambition to increase the number and quality of apprenticeships, and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, due to come into effect in April 2017, has led to growing interest in higher and degree level apprenticeships amongst employers. These apprenticeships are equivalent to Foundation, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and provide a route for employers to grow their own graduate by recruiting high-calibre candidates and training them to fill their higher-level skills gaps on-the-job.

Gradsouthwest is responding to this growing interest by delivering targeted recruitment support for businesses looking to recruit the best talent they can into their new higher and degree apprenticeship roles.

For students looking to find a higher or degree apprenticeship in the region, the service will offer a one-stop-shop for vacancies targeted specifically at those wanting to work in the South West.

Dr Deborah Watson, Director of Gradsouthwest, says:

“We are pleased to offer this new service to local businesses looking to grow their own graduate by training and developing higher and degree apprentices. For students, we offer a new way to work in the South West and to qualify as a graduate at the same time.”

To find out more about recruiting higher & degree apprenticeships or graduates visit or call us on 01392 241302.



NOTE: Levels of apprenticeship

Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels:

Name Level Equivalent educational level
Intermediate 2 5 GCSE passes at grades A* to C
Advanced 3 2 A level passes
Higher 4, 5, 6 and 7 Foundation degree and above
Degree 6 and 7 Bachelor’s or Master’s degree



Is Postgraduate Study for you?

November is traditionally Postgraduate Open Day season where many University’s open their doors to prospective students looking to continue their studies at postgraduate level.

What is Postgraduate Study?

Postgraduate study is an opportunity to take your subject further and deeper, to focus and specialise. There are three categories of postgraduate study:

  1. Taught courses – including Masters Programmes that tend to be 1 year full-time leading to MSc or MA type qualifications.
  2. Research courses – usually 2+ years leading to MPhil or 3+ years leading to PhD qualifications these courses tend to allow greater academic independence.
  3. Professional Courses – which enable entry into a given profession, e.g. PGCE for teaching.

Why Postgraduate Study?

The reasons people chose to do postgraduate study vary hugely. It is important to consider why you want to continue your studies and what motivates you:

  • Is postgraduate study needed to move into your chosen career?
  • Does postgraduate study allow you to change career path?
  • Do you love the subject and just want to study it in more depth?
  • Do you enjoy being at University and want to stay longer?
  • Will postgraduate study abroad gain you international experience?
  • Are you not sure of the jobs market?

What are the benefits?

A postgraduate qualification is an excellent way to enhance your prospects – whether that is within academia, within your chosen career, or to enable you to change career paths.

For some a postgraduate qualification is a necessary career step. For others it is the chance to grow and develop ideas and interests.

Is funding available?

There are many funding options available for postgraduate study and your best bet is to contact the University that you are interested in studying at for the options they have available for that course.

What next?

If you are looking to stay in the South West here are a few links to help you:

If you’ve missed the autumn Open Day date, then many Universities have further open days in the spring.

If you remain here in the South West or go further afield for your postgraduate study, don’t forget to use to get your job in the South West when you finish!

If you are advertising postgraduate study and would like to talk to us about promoting your Postgraduate Open Days or Programmes then give us a call on 01392 241302 or email


Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.

It’s Over! What you can learn from Candice and the Great British Bake Off…

Can Candice bake like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood? Does she get it right every time? Does she stop being ambitious (remember that peacock)? Does she give up when it all goes wrong?

It’s a resounding ‘no’ to to all of the above. It’s why we love her. And why, if you can emulate her approach, recruiters will love you too.

So, what can you learn from GBBO winner Candice? Here’s our take….

#1        Respect experience

Candice is an outstanding baker. But she can’t trump Mary and Paul. At least not yet. You can be excellent – and still have room for improvement. Know this at every stage of your career, and more importantly, show you know it.

#2        Take feedback

Honest feedback can hurt.  It doesn’t mean you’re not brilliant. It just means that, if you listen and learn, you can be more brilliant. Listen, hear, take notes and be gracious.  Cry later if you need to – but do take it on board and act on it.

#3        Go for it

If we could tell you just one thing, it would be to GO FOR IT. When Candice applied to GBBO, she didn’t think she’d win. She had no idea of the standard required and the competition she would face but she applied anyway. You should do the same. See a job you like the look of? APPLY. Most people won’t – they’ll focus on the things required that they don’t have. If you can meet most (not all – that’s an ‘ideal’) of the criteria – and show willing – you stand a really good chance. Be brave. Be bold. Go for it.

We wish you luck. And if you need inspiration for your graduate career, head over to for lots of SW graduate jobs with companies that value graduate skills.

Charlotte Weston

Charlotte is a graduate with many years’ experience in both large and small organisations. She now works as a consultant to a range of SMEs across the south west and is a Non-Executive Director of Gradsouthwest.

Graduate Outcomes feature in Government’s HE Green paper

The UK Government has just released its Higher Education Green Paper “Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice”, BIS/15/623. This is a wide ranging consultation, but there are interesting aspects of it that will drive a greater focus on graduate employability and career paths after graduation. Why? Because it is recognised that employers want highly skilled graduates who are ready to enter the workforce; and that the country needs people with the knowledge and expertise to help us compete at a global level.

The foreword by Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science states: “While employers report strong demand for graduate talent, they continue to raise concerns about the skills and job readiness of too many in the graduate labour pool. Recent indications that the graduate earnings gap is in decline, and that significant numbers of graduates are going into non-graduate jobs, reinforce the need for action.”

So what is proposed? A Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – a mechanism to identify and incentivise the highest quality teaching to drive up standards in higher education, deliver better quality for students and employers and better value for taxpayers. One of the aims of the TEF is to help employers to identify and recruit graduates with the skills they require by providing better and clearer information about courses and degree outcomes.

Here are some statements from the consultation that put the proposals into context.

  • Demand continues to be strong for employees with high level skills; over half of the 14.4 million jobs expected to become vacant between 2012 and 2022 are in occupations more likely to employ graduates[1]. However, at least 20% of graduates are not working in high skilled employment three and a half years after graduation[2], and most employers of STEM graduates are concerned about shortages of high quality applicants[3].
  • More needs to be done to ensure that providers offering the highest quality courses are recognised and that teaching is valued as much as research. Students expect better value for money; employers need access to a pipeline of graduates with the skills they need; and the taxpayer needs to see a broad range of economic and social benefits generated by the public investment in our higher education system.
  • The average graduate is expected to earn comfortably in excess of £100,000 more over their working life compared to someone with only 2 or more A-Levels, the graduate earnings premium is less evident for many and non-existent for some. At least 20% of graduates are not working in high skilled employment three and a half years after graduation[2].
  • Information about the quality of teaching is also vital to UK productivity. In an increasingly globalised world, the highest returns go to the individuals and economies with the highest skills. However, the absence of information about the quality of courses, subjects covered and skills gained makes it difficult for employers to identify and recruit graduates with the right level of skills and harder for providers to know how to develop and improve their courses. For example, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (2015) found that almost a quarter of employers had open vacancies because they couldn’t find the right skills in the most recent graduate cohort[4].

And why is this really important to employers? As the consultation says in para.14 “TEF should also prove a good deal for employers and the taxpayer. The aim is to improve the teaching that students receive, which in turn should increase their productivity and help them secure better jobs and careers. It should enable employers to make more informed choices about the graduates they recruit, providing better understanding of the range of skills and knowledge they bring from their course, and deliver graduates who are more work ready following an active engagement in their studies. With higher returns, more graduates will be able to pay back more of their loans, reducing the amount that needs to be subsidised by the taxpayer in the longer term. This is on top of the benefits to taxpayers from having a stronger economy powered by a higher skilled workforce.”

For more on the consultation go to:

Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.

[1] UKCES Working Futures 2012-2022 report –
[2] Longitudinal Destinations of Leavers from HE 10/11 –

[3] Understanding Employers’ Graduate Recruitment and Selection Practices – BIS research report 231, forthcoming publication

[4] “Mind the skills gap –whose responsibility is it?” (NCUB, 2015)