Issue date: 26 June 2014
A focused effort to collaborate with regional employers to develop the skills graduates need is paying dividends in graduate employment prospects for students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
Employment for graduates from UWE Bristol has reached a new high according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The annual 'first destination' report is an analysis carried out by all Higher Education Institutions summarising what students are doing six months on after graduation.
The University has surpassed its own previous records with only 4.5% of students seeking employment within six months of graduation, an improvement from 5.2% the previous year. This is almost half the national University average of 8% according to HESA figures released today. The previous year UWE Bristol had the 6th best employment record among English universities. University comparisons for this year will be out on Thursday 3 July.
Despite a relatively downbeat economy over the past few years UWE Bristol has worked tirelessly to hook up with employers in the region to set up a range of mutually fruitful schemes. One such scheme initiated by UWE Bristol is Graduate Talent West, an on-line recruitment service hosted by Business West, Chamber of Commerce website that provides 6,000+ business members an easy route to recruiting students and graduates.
Maggie Westgarth, Head of Careers at UWE Bristol, said, “We have weathered the storm remarkably well and now that the economy is looking more buoyant, especially in this region, our students are reaping rewards through our links with 1000s of employers, particularly with small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Our funded internship programme has generated more than 1,500 opportunities for UWE students to work in regional businesses since 2010 and this year we are proud to celebrate Bristol's European Green Capital Award by launching a green intern scheme for businesses that want to develop green policies and practice.
“However it's not all about working with existing businesses, it's also about nurturing new ones so we are also investing in our student entrepreneurs and providing support for them to develop their business ideas.”
The coming years look to be good for graduates in the West with a prediction of 3.4 % annual growth by 2020 and a projected 95,000 new jobs by 2030. (Source*West of England LEP)
50% of UWE graduates remain in the region on graduation and up to 80% on some programmes such as Nursing and Midwifery. Other subject areas benefitting from the opportunities provided by buoyant regional sectors include Creative Industries, Engineering, Architecture, Construction, Business and Finance, IT plus Allied Health areas such as Radiography.
James Craven, Managing Director from Study International, a digital agency with offices in Bristol and Sydney that helps universities find international students, has worked with UWE Bristol for the past two years. He said, “We have found the internship schemes run in the summer by UWE to be really very useful to our business. The interns have worked as Student Liaison Officers who talk to international students who want to find out about studying overseas. We train the students in all the important details like visa requirements and course detail for our clients and also in communications and marketing. We have now taken on about 12 interns and at least six of these have returned to us when they have graduated to secure full time roles for the company.
“We have found the UWE students have the qualities we are looking for in terms of commitment, ambition and willingness to learn. The Careers team at UWE has also been really proactive at finding good ways of working with us and striving to understand what we are looking for in a recruit.”
Professor Steve West, UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor, said, “It's fantastic that we are succeeding in an area that is so central to our 2020 Strategy. So much effort has been placed on preparing our students for the transition from university to the real world. This means our students are seen as being absolutely what employers are looking for but more than that they are also global citizens making a positive contribution to society and communities. With significant projection for growth in our regional economy forecast, the graduate work force will be central to creating future success.
“Graduates need to display more than an academic approach and at UWE Bristol we have integrated placements, practice based learning, internships, volunteer opportunities and support for budding entrepreneurs to help students move seamlessly into the world. Proven practical and business aptitude and an enterprising mind-set are essential and these are the qualities that we work at helping our students to develop whilst they are studying. It's obviously working!”