Centrica plc and the University of Leicester

Centrica plc and the University of Leicester

Centrica was particularly interested in partnering with Leicester as the University had an extremely diverse, high-quality student population but was not considered a target institution by many major employers.

Centrica and the University of Leicester have been working in close partnership since 2012, when the company became a founder member of the University’s Employer Advisory Board (EAB). The aim was to help raise Leicester’s profile through enhancing the employability of its students, but also to gain a competitive advantage by being there from the start.

Together with other major employers Centrica worked with the Career Development Service team at Leicester to refine the University’s new, innovative employability strategy and set clear actions. This led to the development of these key interventions:

  • ‘No prep, no entry’ at the Festival of Careers
  • Undergraduate Internship Promise
  • Employability embedded within the Curriculum
  • Enhanced SME partnerships
  • The Leicester Award

Policies such as ‘no prep, no entry’ required a massive commitment on the part of the Career Development Service, with team members running workshops for 4,000 students to help them prepare for the Festival of Careers.

Leicester invested substantial time and resources into the partnership, not only hosting Board meetings on campus but also including formal dinners at the Vice Chancellor’s home. As awareness grew about the calibre of undergraduates at Leicester and the employability skills that they were developing, Centrica raised its presence on campus and began actively targeting the student population for the first time. The Career Development Service noted a substantial increase in employer activity, versus previous years.

Students were active participants in the Employer Advisory Board’s work, attending meetings to give first-hand input. The students commented on the benefits of taking part in some of the key interventions available:

“My highlight of the award was seeing myself diverge from the reserved person I was, to become a confident and open-minded person. The award helped me jump a step closer to my career ambition.” Nima Daher, University of Leicester student.

Academics endorsed the approach and its positive effect on their students. Dr Sam King, Department of Criminology said:

"Whatever department they are studying in they can see how the knowledge and theory is applied in the real world. They are getting an opportunity to meet people whom they might be going to for jobs in the future, and to network with people in the community that they might not otherwise meet."

The EAB’s contribution to help structure Leicester’s approach to employability resulted in awards recognition:

  • Recognised by the AGR Annual Development Awards 2015 as the UK’s leading institution for their employability strategy.
  • Won the AGR Annual Development Awards 2016 in the ‘Best Preparation for Work Initiative (Higher Education)’ category.
  • The National Undergraduate Awards 2016 have shortlisted Leicester in its ‘Best University Careers/ Employability Service’ category.

In 2015 Leicester secured, for the first time, a position in the Top 30 universities most visited by employers. As a result Leicester students were interviewed in the compiling of the 2015 Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list, cementing their position as a target group for employers.

Centrica has recruited graduate talent from Leicester into a range of functionally-aligned streams and has benefited substantially from the on-campus profile that membership of the EAB brings.

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