The Graduate Route: Unlocking your access to international graduate talent

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Jennifer, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) Occupational Therapy Apprenticeship

The UK’s Graduate Route, introduced in July 2021, means that employers can now recruit international students into any role for up to two years after they graduate without the need for sponsorship, meaning absolutely no additional fees or admin, and making it just as easy to recruit them as home students.

However, in a recent paper, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found that just 3% of employees had knowingly used the Graduate Route.

In this blog post, we share with employees how to use the Graduate Route to help transform your business.  

Why the Graduate Route?

International students can bring a wide range of benefits to your company, including language skills, international contacts and multicultural awareness.

Historically, employers have found it difficult to recruit international students because of the stipulations, fees and red-tape associated with graduate visas.

The widespread skills shortages across the public and private sectors will only be filled with the help of international students already in the UK, according to Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI.

International students represent 1 in 4 students studying in the UK, according to HESA data, and this includes over 200,000 studying STEM subjects such as computing, engineering and mathematics.

Before July 2021, employers had to become a sponsor and could only recruit international students into a ‘graduate level’ role with a salary of £21k or higher, depending on the government’s code of practice salary for that role. And this had to be done before the candidate’s study visa expired, around 3-4 months after their graduation.

The new Graduate Route removes all fees and stipulations for two years after graduation, giving candidates and employers more time to find the right fit.

Accessing talent through our free online portal

In response to the Graduate Route, and with the support of FinTech West, UWE Bristol launched a new UK section on GradLink, a careers site for international students and graduates from all universities and HE institutions across the UK.

The award-winning platform is completely free to all – including employers. Employers can build their own profile on the GradLink site, advertise vacancies, search the site’s CV database and contact candidates directly.

The dual boon of a rich talent supply and ease of access to it, makes now a great time to consider recruiting international students and graduates to fill your skills and talent gaps.     

Global Employability Development Manager David Gee commented on the scheme:

In order to thrive in the global market, employers must develop a workforce with a truly international perspective. International students and graduates are a great means for doing this, and they often bring key shortage skills with them too. The Graduate Route makes recruiting international students easy, while the GradLink service provides a trusted means for recruiting them for free.”

Find out more about GradLink and the Graduate Route.

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