Providing UK employers with a talent pipeline is one of our key focuses at the University of Leicester.  We go to incredible lengths to help our students gain the real-world employability skills they need and that businesses will benefit from.

With this in mind the University’s AGR Award Winning Career Development Service developed a very special offer to support the UK Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) sector.

The University recognised that small businesses may have limited time, resources and budget to focus on student and graduate recruitment.  So to address this, it designed a number of programmes exclusively for the SME sector, linking bright student and graduate talent with the SME business community across the country.

The University’s Graduate Gateways Programme offers the chance to recruit a graduate for 3-12 months or permanently with financial assistance. Helping smaller employers to identify the talent they need to support business growth and development; and providing funding to support the cost of recruitment.

The newly established Undergraduate Internship Programme offers the chance to recruit students at an even earlier stage, during their first or second year, for a 6-12 week paid internship over the summer vacation period with financial assistance. Students taking part are recruited from an identified ‘talent pool’ of motivated and prepared students to work on specific projects within a business.

Through each of these programmes the University works closely with students prior to their experience to prepare them for entering into employment, via a combination of interactive workshops and online development modules.  This approach has enabled SMEs to engage with the University confident in the knowledge that students will be well prepared for work and their time can remain focused on running their business.

The University of Leicester began to establish and deliver such programmes by exploring its relationships with larger graduate recruiters. Its first step was to partner with Santander Universities in 2013.  The strong relationship developed with Santander Universities since this time has directly facilitated the placement of 79 students and graduates into paid internships. The Santander Universities Internship Programme offers UK-based SMEs the opportunity to take on a final year student or a recent graduate for a minimum of 3 months for a paid graduate internship with financial assistance.

Through programmes such as Graduate Gateways and Undergraduate Internships, the University of Leicester has been able to strengthen its ties with the SME sector, providing companies with an accessible and cost effective method to target and recruit talented university students whilst giving students greater opportunities to develop their employability through paid employment.

Katherine Ford – Graduate Intern of the Year

In 2013 Economics graduate Katherine Ford won the title of the Graduate Intern of the Year due to her impressive achievements in a fairly short period of time (4 months) and the outstanding impact she made on local SME Whitwick Community Enterprises by developing a new fully functioning HR system for her host organisation.

The fully functioning HR system which she developed continued to have an ongoing positive impact on both the company in terms of their effectiveness and efficiency, as well as the local community of young people they are work with.

Katherine’s experience enabled her to significantly grow and develop professionally and at the end of her internship she managed to secure both an extension of her contract and was offered a higher salary.  She was also given an opportunity to move the project she had initiated to its next stage.

You can hear from Whitwick Community Enterprises about the value of hosting an intern, and from Katherine about her work experience, below:

Andrew Hogsden, Finance Director Whitwick Community Enterprises, The impact of Leicester graduates on local businesses:

Katherine Ford, 2013 Economics graduate, won the “Graduate Intern of the Year Award”:

Find out more

To learn more about recruiting our talented students through the Graduate Gateways and Undergraduate Internship programmes please contact us using the details on our website: