A new initiative that aims to get more university leavers staying or returning to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is bringing together talented graduates and small businesses.

Partners across the county have joined forces to support graduates to gain paid permanent jobs. ‘Fuse’ is a partnership between Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham to provide SMEs (small and medium enterprises) with access to a corporate-style graduate recruitment scheme.

It’s hoped this scheme will be a way to tackle issues that arose from the recent Great Nottingham Debate research. This was a study into the issues surrounding Nottingham’s low graduate retention rates compared to other UK cities and highlighted the challenge of combining both employment opportunities with social integration

Evidence suggests Nottingham offers significant opportunities for young professionals. It has a vibrant Small-to-Medium sized Enterprise (SME) population. Research suggests that SMEs can provide opportunities for faster career progression and a better quality of work compared to larger employers. Young recruits will be more likely to work in smaller teams, with frequent contact with senior staff and a greater diversity of clients and projects.

The research also found that SMEs struggled to compete with large organisations when recruiting graduates, suggesting that more could be done to market the benefits of joining an SME to students. The newly-launched Fuse programme aims to tackle these challenges.

How it works –

When large companies recruit graduates they have big campaigns and recruitment structures. Smaller businesses often don’t have the capacity to do this, so the new scheme will do it for them.

An initial pilot of the programme will run this summer, providing businesses with the opportunity to attract and select high-quality graduates who want to work in the area. Graduates who apply will be put through a rigorous selection process, including video interviews and assessments, in order to match them with employers.

This entire process is free to employers, enabling them to access ‘blue-chip’ quality graduate recruitment at zero cost.

The programme is being delivered by Gradcore, a social enterprise that works to transform graduate recruitment and employability. Gradcore operate a wide range of schemes across the UK and Europe, and brings in-depth understanding of how to recruit for small and large organisations.

Graduates who are successful will be placed in a paid job and will benefit from a development programme to ensure they ‘hit the ground running’ in the business. Similarly, there will be support for the employer around how to get the best out of their new graduate. This development programme will aim to build links with graduates from other corporate graduate schemes in the area – helping the fledgling professionals to build the social networks that will encourage them to stay.

Fuse also offers support to the graduates who don’t get a job. Any graduate who applies and is not appointed will be provided with personal feedback on their performance, and employability-development guidelines for the future.

Similar schemes in other cities, such as RISE in Sheffield, have delivered significant economic impact and helped thousands of graduates and hundreds of businesses to connect and grow. Independent economic analysis has shown that for every £1 invested in schemes such as this, more than £5 can be returned to the economy in benefit.

Fuse is ideally placed for companies that are struggling to recruit, or seeking to grow but haven’t previously had a means to attract and select graduates. The pilot cohort has around 30 business places and more than 750 graduates have already expressed an interest in the programme.

The deadline to put forward a vacancy for inclusion in the programme is Wednesday 13 July, and the deadline for graduate applications will be Sunday 7 August. More information for businesses and graduates can be found at www.fusegraduates.com or send an email to either grads@fusegraduates.com (for graduates) or businesses@fusegraduates.com (for businesses).

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills at Nottingham City Council, said: “The ambition of the council is to retain 20% more graduates in our local economy from Nottingham universities by 2020.

“We want to ensure that Nottingham is seen as a great graduate city and that employers have highly-skilled workforces that can support them to expand and grow. FUSE is a great example of how we have listened to local employers who say they would value this type of support, and shows how we are taking forward the ideas that came out of the Great Nottingham Debate on graduate retention earlier this year.”

Martin Edmondson, CEO at Gradcore, said: “We are hugely excited to be working on this groundbreaking programme in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We are conscious that the report showed Nottingham falling behind other cities on graduate retention, and look forward to working with everyone in the area to create an offer that retains graduates and helps grow businesses and the local economy.”

Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of the Economic Development Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “As home to great universities and colleges, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire is a fantastic place to learn, but we need to do more to convince our graduates that it’s also a fantastic place to earn. Fuse provides a great opportunity for businesses to access the rich pool of talent leaving education in the area, grow the local economy and match world-class graduates with world-class businesses.”

Dr Nalayini Thambar(BOTH COR), Director of Careers and Employability at The University of Nottingham, said: “We are committed to developing skilled graduates with a strong sense of entrepreneurship, community and social responsibility. We are delighted to be a partner in this exciting development to boost the city and county economy by connecting more graduate talent to our local businesses, and showcasing the potential of a career in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to recent graduates. ”

Hanna Luetkemeier(BOTH COR), Business Services Consultant at Nottingham Trent University, said: “We are committed to supporting the future aspirations of our graduates and the local business community. By working collaboratively alongside our colleagues at both councils and The University of Nottingham on the Fuse project, we hope to aid the creation of a young professional network in the city and county while developing our graduates’ employability skills.”

For more information about Fuse visit: www.fusegraduates.com