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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is a graduate scheme?

Graduate schemes are roles offered to those who have recently graduated from higher education. These roles have a strong focus on giving the employee real-world experience in their chosen field.

Graduate scheme definition

Graduate schemes are similar to entry-level roles in that they are generally the employee’s first step onto the career ladder. Graduate schemes will usually exclusively be offered to university graduates, and will often be targetted to graduates from a certain course or degree.

No previous work experience is usually needed, but higher education qualifications of a certain level can be requested from applicants.

Graduate scheme vs entry-level

As graduate schemes and entry-level jobs both target employees of the same level, they can sometimes be confused.

One distinction is that with a graduate scheme, further training and qualifications can be offered to graduates in a certain field or building towards a certain career path. 

For example, a UK graduate who has completed a degree in Accounting and Finance may then take an Auditor graduate scheme which offers them ACA study support and exam funding.

A graduate scheme may also offer experience in more than one area of a business. A Business Development graduate may take a graduate scheme that offers them six months of training in the sales department and six months working with Account Management. This gives graduates the opportunity to gain experience in multiple areas and tailor their careers to their interests.

Entry-level roles, however, tend to have a more concrete role in the business. They will apply for a certain position and perform this role daily.

How long do graduate schemes last?

This depends on the company and the role. Usually, graduate schemes will last around a year to a year and a half. However, with certain roles, such as specific accounting or health professional roles, longer graduate schemes may be needed. TeachFirst, for example, offers a teacher training scheme that lasts two years.

For longer graduate schemes, it is typical that the base salary will rise along with the employee’s experience level. They may also see title changes if the scheme provides multiple layers of training.

Are graduate scheme employees considered full-time employees?

Yes, unlike those completing an internship, graduate scheme employees are considered full-time employees and will be compensated as such. 

Typically, they will also receive all the same employee benefits and perks as other full-time employees.

Examples of graduate scheme positions

As mentioned, most graduate schemes are provided to roles that require further training after studying. 

Examples of roles that can be offered as a graduate scheme include:


• Supply Chain Analysts


• HR Officer

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