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Internships are key to retaining top talent, reports the AGR

Internships provide the key to employee retention, as new research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) reveals that graduates who were interns stay with a company longer than those who weren’t.


The report launched today (1st March 2016) at the annual AGR Development Conference, reveals how some of the UK’s largest employers develop early talent. Nearly 200 businesses were surveyed, representing more than three million staff and almost 20,000 graduates.


A university leaver going onto a graduate scheme will remain with that company for an average of 4.4 years, costing a median of £2.5k in training and development across a two-year development programme. The majority (91%) stay with their employer over the course of their programme, but nearly one in ten (8%) leave the year after it ends.


Graduates who were formerly interns stay with a company six months longer than those who weren’t. Salary also has a significant influence on retention with most graduates leaving to earn more with another employer. This comes despite the fact that graduates on structured programmes earn a median of £8,000 more than graduates in other full-time work after three years.


Half of firms lose graduates due to unmet expectations of career progression and 45% have had graduates leave because they want a career change. Around a fifth (17%) of graduates leave for other reasons ranging from issues with performance, working hours or wellbeing to moving to a smaller firm or returning to education.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive at the AGR, said, “These findings underline the value of work placement students to employers, as we’re seeing graduates who were previously interns stay longer with their organisations. This adds weight to the anecdotal claim that candidates with work experience add more value to employers in the long run.


“Of course there are a variety of reasons that graduates decide to leave a company, but employers looking to improve retention need to be holistic in their approach and manage expectations. Ongoing communication about career paths would also be beneficial.”


Nick White, graduate programme manager at Fujitsu, commented, “Retention and performance are two of the main reasons why we run internships. Candidates who have previously been interns are more likely to stay with us longer as they’ve made a conscious decision to join an organisation they already know. They join with an existing network in place, and are also more likely to be high performers as they’ve already developed some of the skills we’re looking for in new graduate recruits.”


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