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Jeff Randall Live: GlaxoSmithKline and FreshMinds

I made my Sky news debut yesterday evening on the Jeff Randall Live show where Andrew Witty, Chief Executive of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), talked of a recruitment offer to launch in September 2012 which would reimburse tuition fees of all successful applicants to its training scheme.  Witty said that this investment would be ‘recouped many times over if it brought in a single brilliant scientist’.  Witty also said GSK is focussed on attracting the ‘best possible talent’ and he hoped this scheme would result in a ‘gold rush’ of applicants to the firm.

My thoughts on this scheme are generally positive as this is an indicator that graduate employers are starting to re-invest in our market once again.  Innovation and creativity in the graduate market is an exciting prospect.  However, at FreshMinds Talent, we interview between 50-100 of the brightest and best graduates in the UK every week and time and time again, candidates want more than just a financial incentive.  High flyers are harder to please and will also want to know of progression and development opportunities.  Generation Y are savvy and demanding – they know what they want out of their careers and they often view their first role as a door-opener to greater things, so a financial benefit, whilst very appealing, is only part of the package.

Jeff Randall asked whether other companies will follow suit which is an interesting question.  My response was that the Army and the Legal profession have been funding education for years so whilst this is in response to the recent tuition fee hikes it could be argued that this is a similar offer albeit in a different guise.

We do need to watch this space however, as KPMG launched a similar scheme in conjunction with Durham university for a select number of budding accountants and if other firms jump on the KPMG / GSK bandwagon, we may see a significant shift in the expectations of graduates.  Is this a good thing?  Will other graduate employers start to launch similar schemes?

In my personal opinion, there will always be a supply of and a demand for high calibre graduates but the war for Talent may become even more interesting over the next year.

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Soraya Pugh is the Head of FreshMinds Talent Graduate Team