At the beginning of this year we were able to benefit from the Graduate Recruitment Incentive, funded by the Scottish Government and implemented on its behalf by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
The incentive scheme was introduced with the aims of helping businesses to grow and creating jobs: we would receive a special payment if we hired a graduate into a new, graduate-level, permanent job.
What actually happened was that we hired two graduates into entry-level posts: Melanie joined us a production assistant in January and Jacqui joined us as an editorial office specialist in March. They are just two of 100 graduates recruited this year through the pilot scheme. Without it, we might have recruited only one person, not necessarily a new graduate, and probably not until the second half of the year.
Unusually, during recruitment, we had to restrict applicants to those under 25 years of age, which felt a little discriminatory and against normal HR practice. However, in this case, as it was a government programme, it was more like an example of positive discrimination.
An entry-level job is a great opportunity for a graduate to build experience, learn new skills and begin to develop a career in their chosen industry. The people we recruit for these positions (usually production assistant or editorial office specialist as mentioned above) may have little or no practical experience, but we look for those who are intelligent and resourceful, show potential and are very keen to learn. They often progress far.
My colleague Lucy Harrier, for example, joined 10 years ago as a production assistant and has recently been promoted to director. In fact, Melanie, mentioned above, who joined us in January, has just this month been promoted to the post of production editor.
It’s recently been announced that a further £4.2 million will be available for the graduate recruitment scheme during 2013/14. It aims to encourage the recruitment of 270 graduates. We’re not sure whether or not we will be able to benefit from this again, but we’re very glad to see this scheme boost employment within Scotland and particularly among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
This sector is where the economic growth lies – 99% of business in Europe is generated by SMEs – and we hope others can benefit from this scheme as we have. We now have a head count of 24 – our highest ever, and much sooner than would otherwise have been the case.