As many as 40,000
university leavers will fail to
find a job within six months
of graduating. We can
change this together.
Graduate jobs 'taken by work experience students'
Jobs outlook for construction graduates improving
BIS launch Best Practice Code for High-Quality Internships
Letter from RT Hon David Willets MP
Fight for graduate jobs 'hits record high' in the UK
Construction will suffer skills deja vu without investment, warns CIOB
CIOB makes Graduate Pledge
UKCG sign up to The Pledge
Boost to Pledge as JRP hires intern
Invest now to protect future talent
Internally grateful: Meet two construction interns
Support unemployed graduates and the industry’s future
Government intern system: Slow learners
Call for firms to help unemployed graduates
Graduate jobs 'taken by work experience students'

More than a third of jobs for new graduates are taken by people who have already had work experience with that employer, according to the latest update on the graduate jobs market.

The report from High Fliers Research shows that employers are recruiting more graduates - but there are record numbers of graduates chasing jobs.

Employers are reporting a 19% average increase in applications.

Those without any work experience have "little or no chance", says the report.

Jobs outlook for construction graduates improving

Research by Higher Education Careers Services Unit points to steadily improving employment picture

The jobs outlook for building, engineering and architecture graduates in the UK is brightening according to new research from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

HECSU's annual What Do Graduates Do report, which is published today (Monday) and tracks the destinations of full and part-time first degree graduates six months after leaving university in 2010, shows employment is steadily increasing and unemployment is slowly decreasing, reflecting an improving jobs market for graduates overall.
BIS launch Best Practice Code for High-Quality Internships

The Code supported by RICS and RIBA will provide guidance to professions offering internships on best practice for the design and running of internships, and will help to ensure that both interns and employers obtain the maximum benefit from such placements. The Code sets out six principles of best practice for internships: preparation; recruitment, induction; supervision and mentoring; certification, reference and feedback.

Copy the link into your browser to download the report
Letter from RT Hon David Willets MP

The Minister for Universities and Science has written a letter in support for The Pledge.

The Pledge - Safeguarding future talent

I am delighted to hear of this initiative to encourage construction businesses to offer graduate internships through the Graduate Talent Pool. I wish you all the best with your campaign, which will offer significant benefits both to employers and to new graduates in these difficult economic times.

Internships, of course, provide a way to gain real and relevant work experience, and for employers to tap into graduate skills and knowledge in a low risk way. They also allow young graduates to prove themselves to employers, with the result that many are offered long term employment on completion of their internships.

Finally, I am pleased to confirm that government has decided to continue the Graduate Talent Pool, making it available to 2011 graduates, as well as those from recent years. I welcome the Pledge's intention to make use of the service.

The RT Hon David Willets MP
Fight for graduate jobs 'hits record high' in the UK

Graduates in the UK are facing record competition for jobs - with an average of 83 applying for every vacancy - but the market is continuing to improve, a survey suggests.

Average applications per vacancy have risen from 69 in 2010, 49 in 2009 and 31 in 2008, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) said.

Its bi-annual survey of 200 employers predicted a 2.6% rise in job numbers.

Starting salaries had also risen for the first time in three years, it said.

The report shows a continuing upward trend in job opportunities for graduates, after a steep decline in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

However, growth is slower than the 8.9% increase AGR recorded in its January 2011 survey.


Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, said the showed "very encouraging signs" for graduates, despite the rise in competition.

"I am cautiously optimistic about today's findings, which provides a welcome indication that the graduate recruitment market is beginning to overcome the impact of the recession," he said.

But he added that the overall quality of applications had improved, and advised graduates to stress their transferable skills when applying for jobs.

Universities Minister David Willetts said despite tough competition for graduate jobs, university remained a worthwhile investment.

"All the evidence I've seen has been that going to university by and large improves your job prospects," he told BBC Breakfast.

"Graduate rates of employment are higher than for non-graduates and of course they're more likely to be in better paid jobs," he said.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors' umbrella group Universities UK, said the survey findings were "encouraging news".

"Competition for some graduate positions remains intense, but the predicted rise in the number of graduate vacancies is positive," she said.

"UK graduates are still highly valued by employers. The UK is only going to compete globally on high-level skills," she said.

"Let's not forget that China, it's predicted, will be producing more graduates than Europe and the US combined by 2020."
Construction will suffer skills deja vu without investment, warns CIOB

Results from the fifth annual skills audit from the Chartered Institute of Building shows that the construction industry is under staffed.

77% of construction professionals who took part believe a lack of skilled domestic construction personnel and the scarcity of good training and investment has led to a skills shortage, with 85% concerned there may not be enough skilled construction personnel available when the industry needs them.

"The signs suggest the industry is being cautious in how it retains staff and recruits new talent. That is unsurprising when the economy is so uncertain. But there is a risk that construction will fall into the same trap as the last recession and lose the people it needs to respond to economic recovery", said Michael Brown Deputy Chief Executive at the CIOB.

CIOB makes Graduate Pledge

In line with the Chartered Institute of Building's continuing role in the development of educational standards and the representation of graduate members in the built environment the Institute has become supporting partners of the industry initiative The Pledge. This campaign strives to solve the problem of unemployed graduates drifting away from the construction industry as well as addressing corporate gaps in staffing.

Spearheaded by construction consultants John Rowan & Partners and launched last year by Building magazine The Pledge is aimed at supporting graduates by encouraging companies to take on internships. Graduates in Britain are facing the worst prospects for decades; with jobs and homes little more than an impossible dream for many of the country's most highly educated twenty somethings, and more than twice as many graduates now chase every available job compared with the early 1980s.

Paula Annels Head of Policy & External Relations at the CIOB believes that The Pledge will offer the construction sector a structured approach to protecting talent in order to break the cyclical issue of skills shortages that recession's have been proven to create.

The CIOB is asking its members to support the campaign and gain from the benefits by signing up and playing their part in supporting our future talent.

UKCG sign up to The Pledge

The UK Contractors Group have followed in the footsteps of the CIOB and the Construction Industry Council and are backing The Pledge by promoting the initiative to their members to sign up and make a difference.

The Pledge is a structured initiative by John Rowan & Partners designed specifically to help the UK construction sector to take the next step in employment. It seeks both to increase the number of built environment internships on offer and to ensure that they are advertised via the Graduate Talent Pool.

Boost to Pledge as JRP hires intern

2 July 2010 | By Roxane McMeeken

Interns can gain valuable experience, boost their CV and plug temporary skills gaps, says consultant

Max Stafford, an intern Building interviewed in January, has been offered a permanent post by his internship provider John Rowan and Partners. The move is a boost for the Pledge campaign, which is promoting internships and was launched by JRP with support from Building.

Building met Stafford at the start of his stint with consultant JRP to investigate the pros and cons of internship.

Stephen Gee, managing partner at JRP, told Building at the time that interns gain experience that can play a vital role in retaining their interest in the construction industry and boosting their CV. For employers, interns can plug temporary skills gaps due to workload spikes and act as an extended job interview.

This turned out to be the case for Matt Stafford, who has accepted the role of graduate quantity surveyor with JRP.

He said: "I aim to use it as a springboard to further develop my skills as a QS. JRP took a chance on me and I feel that I have to repay that favour - through hardwork. My previous thoughts about leaving the sector for jobs elsewhere are gone and I feel that my career lies firmly in construction and with JRP."

The Pledge asks construction firms to commit to making 2% of their workforce interns. Companies can sign up at and advertise their opportunities for interns at

Some 36,000 people graduated with built environment degrees last year, but fears have been raised that because of the lack of jobs, if they do not have at least some experience of construction they will abandon the industry permanently, raising the prospect of a skills shortage further down the line.

JRP has had five interns in the past 12 months of which three have been taken on in permanent roles and plan to take on two more this year, including Graham Manley, a Building Surveyor intern starting on 19th July and a project manager intern for the firm's public sector regeneration team in August, for which interviews are taking place in the next two weeks.
Invest now to protect future talent

Construction sector must invest now to protect future talent says Steve Gee, Managing Partner, John Rowan & Partners...

Back in September last year I read a Building magazine article on unemployed graduates. Its headline 'We were promised jobs' stuck with me.

It was almost 30 years ago that I graduated and sought out my first job in the construction sector. That was a time of growth and prosperity that preceded one of the worst economic downturns this country has ever faced. I was fortunate that I made it into employment and pursued a successful career despite the economic climate. But the recession of the early 90s left a bitter taste in the mouth.

Back then, a lot of people jumped ship, opting for sectors that offered safer prospects. It was only 4 or 5 years later that we realised the true impact of this, as the skills shortage began to hit. Now, over a decade later, and with an additional recession all but under our belts, I'm keen that history does not repeat itself, however evidence suggests that this is the case.

The Pledge has been created by JRP to offer the construction sector a structured approach to protecting home grown talent and breaking the cyclical issue of skills shortages that recessions have been proven to create. It's about safeguarding the future talent and skills of individual businesses and the sector as a whole so that when the upturn arrives, we are ready to respond and grow. It might sound idealistic, but the concept was born out of robust research and data that clearly indicates no other option but practical and unified sector commitment to change.

Recruiting talent into a business in this way isn't a bolt on CSR issue, it's business critical - an organisation or sector can only ever be as good as the people within it. Collectively we have an exciting opportunity to ensure that the UK construction sector is leading others in its approach to safeguarding and investing in its future. I for one sincerely hope that it's the last time I see headlines about unemployed graduates.

Internally grateful: Meet two construction interns

By Roxane McMeeken

Our jilted generation of graduates can be trained, retained and ultimately employed " if firms woke up to the advantages of internship. Building met two interns and explained why Building is backing The Pledge to recruit more

Matt Stafford, a 26-year-old quantity surveying graduate with a 2:1 from Kingston university, had almost given up hope of working in construction. He had been looking for a job since leaving university last summer, but without success. Meanwhile, his part-time job at electrical retailer Currys had evolved into a full-time role and he was starting to consider a career in retail. Then, in the first week of January, he began a three-month internship with consultant John Rowan & Partners " and everything changed.

He says: “This placement has made me feel completely different about a construction career. Failing to find a job left me disillusioned with the industry but now I’m excited about it and feeling increasingly confident about my ability to work as a QS.”

Stafford’s experience will resonate with those concerned that swaths of the talented graduates we tried so hard to attract a few years ago are feeling jilted. The fear is that those that don’t find jobs quickly will drift off into other industries permanently. This could result in a repeat of the skills shortage we were grappling with before the recession and a gap at middle management level 10 years from now. Stafford’s story suggests that by giving unemployed graduates internships, we may be able to keep them committed to construction, and avoid a skills deficit in the future.

Internships are easier to put into place than you might think. They needn’t cost the employer much and can bring immediate benefits to the business. The government has even set up a website where you can advertise internships for free.

Why, then, are so few firms taking them on? And what are they missing out on? Here we explain why Building is backing a campaign to get interns into the industry.

Why internships?

The problem of unemployed construction graduates is widely acknowledged.

About 36,000 people graduated in construction-related subjects in 2009. But when Building surveyed a sample of 600 in September, we found that 60% were unemployed, and a third were already considering working outside the industry.

Evidently we don’t need more employees right now, but the industry is predicted to grow by 3% a year between 2011 and 2013. To keep pace with that, we need to recruit 37,000 new entrants a year between 2009 and 2013, according to ConstructionSkills. This includes 3,770 “professional and technical” roles a year.

So how much of a difference could internships make in the battle to keep talented graduates? Stephen Gee, managing partner in John Rowan, has made an interesting calculation. He reckons that if every firm in the industry made up just 2% of their workforce from interns in 2010, this would be enough to give each currently unemployed graduate at least one placement. He says: “Given that the ‘professional and technical’ element of the industry accounts for about 300,000 jobs " excluding senior executives and construction managers " then that 2% will maintain skills slightly above the forecasted level, allowing for some losses along the way.”

What’s in it for us?

Leaving aside the need to do your bit for the industry as a whole, interns can bring benefits closer to home, too. Jonathan Brookes, corporate social responsibility manager at Lakehouse, an Essex-based contractor with 274 staff, has had several interns since the recession started. He says: “We’ve just taken on three sustainability interns and so far we are extremely impressed. We’re just paying their expenses at the moment but we’ll review that and hopefully offer at least one of them a full-time paid job.”

Naturally, Brookes is not motivated entirely by altrusim: he has found that interns are a perfect way to cope with a spike in workload. What’s more, “if you do decide you need to make the post full time, then you have effectively been able to interview someone for several months.” Employers also avoid spending on recruitment agents’ fees " which can be up to 15% of a new starter’s annual salary.

Meanwhile, the graduate gains, at the very least, work experience that could help them get a permanent job and, at best, a full-time job with their placement provider. Candice Homewood, who has just completed a masters degree in environmental engineering at University College London, is one of Brookes’ current interns. She sees internship as “win"win for employer and graduate. They get to test us out, at no cost, and we use the internship as a springboard for our career.”

She adds that although her qualifications would allow her to work in the energy industry, her internship means she’s set her sights on building. “I’m learning so much about construction now that I’d like to stick with the sector.”

How do internships work?

Internships are paid or unpaid stints of work experience that typically last between two weeks and nine months. They tend to be for people who have skills already, but the placement also involves an element of training. There is no obligation to consider an intern for a full-time role after the placement finishes.

Both John Rowan and Lakehouse advertised for interns using a government website launched in August 2009 ( It is free, and under the scheme employers can choose whether to pay interns a salary or only expenses. Interns are also able to continue to claim jobseekers’ allowance for up to 13 weeks while on an unpaid placement secured through the website. Graduates from 2008 and 2009 are eligible to use the site, where they can search for vacancies without registering.

At the time of writing the website was advertising 5,829 vacancies, including 3,477 paid positions.

Surprisingly, perhaps, only five construction industry companies are using the service. There seems to be several reasons for this. One could be that larger firms already have links to universities and offer internships to undergraduates midway through their courses. Another is that the graduate talent pool doesn’t appear to have been marketed strongly to the industry. A straw poll of HR managers at 10 medium-sized firms revealed that only one had heard of the site.

A more troubling issue is that many HR heads are uncertain what an internship actually is. Gee says: “There’s no intern culture in our industry. I sat on a panel at Building’s Good Employers’ conference a few months ago and when I talked about internships it was clear that people were not familiar with the concept. It’s very different from other industries, like law, where internships are common. ”

Others are aware of the idea, but don’t support it. This is particularly the case with architects, who have been sensitive about accepting unpaid workers since the profession was criticised for exploiting unpaid labour. Susan Pasint-Magyar, director of architecture at Hunters, says: “We have made redundancies over the past few months, like most practices, and that means I would feel very uncomfortable taking on an unpaid intern now " I think anyone working in our office should be paid. As for paying an intern, if we needed the help why wouldn’t we offer something to one of the people we have made redundant?”

She adds that Hunters is supporting new entrants into the industry by joining other practices in backing a RIBA competition for Part II architecture students to design an area in Bethnal Green in east London. The winners will be offered a week’s work experience.

The Pledge

But competitions and work experience do not represent support on the same scale as the longer-term placements outlined above. And the latter no longer entails the long periods of unpaid work that practices have been criticised for in the past, as they tend to be three months long and involve payment, or at least the covering of expenses. Gee says if the industry understood the benefits of internships properly, they would become commonplace. “Once the message is out there it will be a no-brainer " most people will go for it.”

Gee is launching a campaign called The Pledge, aimed at getting the industry to create 1,500 internships in each quarter of 2010. He hopes to achieve this by convincing firms to make the equivalent of 2% of their staff interns, and advertise the vacancies on the Graduate Talent Pool website. He is in the process of securing support from the RICS, the RIBA, the CIOB, ConstructionSkills and all universities that offer built environment courses. Building is also backing the campaign.

The campaign aims to persuade the industry that internships can bring benefits for employers and graduates. Gee says, “As we come out of recession this is the ideal way to build up capacity again.” And if it succeeds, the initiative will serve the industry by boosting commitment to construction from graduates like Stafford.

He says: “I feel great about my internship. I’m doing a real variety of things:estimating work, snagging and working on a generic construction programme " I’m definitely not just making the tea. And I feel more determined to stay in construction.”

To add your firm to the list of those pledging to make 2% of their staff interns visit

Support unemployed graduates and the industry’s future

5 March 2010 | By Roxane McMeeken

The Pledge campaign will stop graduates abandoning the industry and plug your staffing gaps

Building is backing the Pledge campaign, which advocates making 2% of your employees interns. The Pledge aims prevent built environment graduates who haven’t found jobs turning their backs on the industry and into the bargain it will help firms increase their resources, temporarily and at limited cost, to cope with spikes in workload.

Employers can pay interns anything from expenses to the market rate for the equivalent permanent role, and they may be employed for anything from a couple of weeks to several months.

The idea is to keep skilled and talented people focused on pursuing a career in construction, even if we can’t offer them full time jobs just now.

Stephen Gee, managing partner in John Rowan and Partners, who has masterminded the campaign, said: “We must keep these young graduates interested in a construction career or when we come out of recession we’ll face a disastrous skills shortage.”

Gee has calculated that if every firm made 2% of their staff interns, this would be enough to give each currently unemployed graduate at least one placement. He said: “Given that the ‘professional and technical’ element of the industry accounts for about 300,000 jobs " excluding senior executives and construction managers " then that 2% will maintain skills slightly above the forecasted level, allowing for some losses along the way.”

The Pledge asks you to advertise internship vacancies (for free) on the government website, Interns employed through this route can continue to claim benefits for a period.

Add your support for The Pledge here."-and-the-industry’s-future!/3159318.article

Government intern system: Slow learners

Denise Chevin
Have you ever logged on to

No, thought not. But you should. It offers a solution to a serious problem: how to avoid losing those 36,000 people who graduated with a construction-related degree last summer, and still haven’t found a job. When you consider that the cost to the public purse of training these people comes to something like £650m, you’d think that government and industry would be desperate to protect the investment. Well, there is a good way of doing that: an intern system. This allows graduates to gain up to nine months of work experience without losing their jobseeker’s benefits (at least, for the first 13 weeks). Meanwhile, employers, who pay the intern their expenses, can decide whether to offer permanent jobs after getting to know all about them.

The government website mentioned above offers a space where employers can advertise internships for free, but companies can be forgiven for not knowing that: the Department for Business’ attempts to market the idea to construction has been so woeful that one wonders whether it actually wants it to succeed. There are one or two internships for architects on it, and a few property management type roles, and, er, that’s about it. Luckily, Stephen Gee, the managing partner in QS John Rowan & Partners, is launching a campaign to highlight the opportunity that employers are missing. On his reckoning if every firm in the industry made up just 2% of their workforce from interns in 2010, this would be enough to give each unemployed graduate a three-month placement. He is urging employers to sign up to the Pledge ( and Building is right behind him.

Of course, companies must avoid abusing the scheme. And, if their interns are doing productive work, then they should be paid a wage " even if it’s not the full whack. Some firms may worry that offering a kind of job at less than the going rate leaves them open to charges of exploitation (especially if they’re architects). Nobody is advocating that " but we need to explore every possible way to get graduates onto the first rung of the ladder. And what’s the alternative? If we suffer another lost generation, within a few years firms will be offering each other’s staff their own snow leopard if they consent to accept a job. The struggle to recruit dominated any conversation with senior QSs until recently. Those days may seem a long time ago, but they really aren’t. Let’s make sure we don’t have to endure them again.

Denise Chevin, editor

Call for firms to help unemployed graduates

1 February 2010 | By Roxane McMeeken

The Pledge campaign says construction graduates need companies to offer internships

A new campaign could solve both the problem of unemployed graduates drifting away from the construction industry and your company’s gaps in staffing.

The Pledge campaign is calling for all companies to make the equivalent of 2% of their staff interns.

This would be enough to give all this year’s unemployed built environment graduates at least once stint of work experience, keeping them interested in the industry and boosting their CVs, the campaign organisers have calculated.

Employers can pay interns anything from expenses to the market rate for the equivalent permanent role, and they may be employed for anything from a couple of weeks to several months.

The Pledge asks you to advertise internship vacancies (for free) on the government website, Interns employed through this route can continue to claim benefits for a period.

Building is backing The Pledge, which was launched by Stephen Gee, managing partner at consultant John Rowan & Partners.
















For further information:
John Rowan and Partners, Craven House
40 Uxbridge Road, Ealing, London W5 2BS
T +44 (0) 20 8567 6995