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Reshaping graduate employment prospects in the post-Covid economy

A year to remember! 

Covid-19 – a crisis that no-one will forget but spare a special thought for the impact it has had on graduates. The news of a full lockdown last spring left many final year students feeling uncertain and demotivated. Fewer job opportunities, graduate schemes put on hold, job offer rescinded and desperate times for many. For the Bradford graduates who come from a disadvantaged background, the impact is even more acute. 

A new way of working  

And so, we move to online learning and delivery. Delivery of workshops and events continue to support our students and graduates but with a very different look – members of Career and Employability Services delivering from their front rooms or kitchen, students joining from the comfort of their bed! You can also bet the delivery person will knock at just the wrong time. 

The Bradford Graduate Programme

This is where our new Bradford Graduate Programme (BGP) comes into effect. Recent graduates who, for a variety of reasons, are still looking for employment can join the programme. They are invited to set their own goals following an individual guidance session with a Career Consultant and are allocated a key contact within our Employer and Placement Services Team. This structured programme of coaching and support, tailored to individual needs, allows graduates to access interventions to help them progress as identified in their action plan, such as customised application and interview support, advice and tailored support to secure jobs or internships, and employability workshops  

A new Partnership 

The real added value in this programme, however, comes through the SkillsHouse Partnership. SkillsHouse is Bradford Council’s hub for training and work in Bradford and, as a key partner in the wider SkillsHouse Partnership, the University hosts two SkillsHouse staff to work alongside the Career and Employability Services’ team to focus on community and business engagement reaching out to local graduates and generating opportunities. Joint working with the LEP’s Skills for Growth Business Advisers further strengthens our network.  The Partnership brings together a wide range of external services across the Bradford district, such as advice on benefits, debt management, housing, and mental health, so with the aid of their Coach each graduate can more easily access the services they need to overcome barriers and get back on track to achieve their career goals.  

A brighter future! 

We now have cohort number one – a group of 2020 graduates who have willingly signed up to the programme. Positive and engaging would describe the graduates at our very first welcome event. Sharing thoughts about their own experience of job searching and listening to each other amidst the occasional cry of ‘you’re on mute! It is safe to say that the group connected. Peer support works wonders. Building up a picture of each individuals needs following their virtual meeting with a Career Consultant will help our BGP team to plan future sessions. Together we will work with our graduates to make sure they remember this year for better reasons than last. 

 

Helen Bradley, Employer and Placement Adviser, University of Bradford H.bradley@bradford.ac.uk  

 

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