Graduate schemes are an increasingly common method of recruiting new talent and training staff for a professional role. Graduates are seen as a source of new ideas and enthusiasm for the business, as well as providing the future workforce.

At Peninsula, we take our Graduate scheme very seriously and were voted the best support company and best consultancy company to work for according to graduate employees at The Job Crowd Awards 2017. The listing ranks employers entirely on reviews from graduate employees. It surveys thousands of recent graduates asking them to rank their experience and ignores how well known the company is, or how much they spend on recruitment and marketing.

To find out why our graduate scheme has been such a success we asked one of the graduates Nicole Whittaker who is now an advice team leader for the business on what made the graduate scheme a success.

“Before joining the graduate programme at Peninsula I graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Human Resource Management. I started my HR career working at the HR Shared services centre for Marks and Spencer as an HR administrator whilst I started my search for a graduate programme. I was instantly drawn to Peninsula due to its reputation and recognition as one of the Times 100 best companies to work for and the extensive training and development opportunities advertised.”

“From the very beginning Peninsula has lived up to its reputation as an outstanding employer and has exceeded all expectations. The training received was second to none and the scheme is carefully structured to provide the theoretical knowledge of all areas of employment law but also the practical examples to apply this theory in real life cases. The depth of knowledge and experience that you gain throughout the scheme is unrivalled however hard work and determination are essential to ensure that you succeed.  The scheme is the perfect platform for an enthusiastic and hardworking graduate who wants to grasp an opportunity with both hands, kick-start their career and work in a fast past and ever expanding company.”

Companies that are considering introducing a scheme can wonder whether employment rights are different for graduates. Below are some key points employers should consider before hiring graduates:

Graduate employees gain the same employment rights as others, including the right to receive a statement of main terms of employment, the right to statutory sick pay, working time limits and paid annual leave. Where the employer decides to offer minimum wage, salaries may differ between those on the scheme as this will depend on the ages of the graduates.

Pay and security

Some may be entitled to the National Minimum Wage, and those who are aged 25 and over will be entitled to receive the National Living Wage.

Other rights are gained through working for the employer for a certain period of time. This includes the right to not be unfairly dismissed after the employee reaches two years’ service.


Recruitment of graduates is an area in which age discrimination can take place. Graduates can be any age, but most people unconsciously associate graduates as being younger. Adverts for the scheme should avoid words such as ‘youthful’ or ‘energetic’, as these can be used as evidence that the employer has a discriminatory attitude towards older applicants.

Additionally, selecting applicants for interviews or the next stage of the recruitment process should not take into account the ages of the candidates. Instead, selection should focus on the specific requirements for the role, including objective factors such as required qualifications and skills.

Training agreements

Where the business is paying for the completion of a professional qualification, they may want to put in place a training agreement.

This is an agreement between the graduate employee and their employer, in which they agree to repay the costs of the training should they leave within a certain period of receiving said training. These agreements are usually based on a sliding scale, whereby the longer the graduate stays with the company after the training, the lower the amount to repay.

For those who are paying the levy, they have 24 months from the payment entering their digital account to spend this on their apprentices. This means that they can use this time to set in place a scheme that meets their business needs.






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.