Research from retail firm urges businesses to prepare students for the workplace

The majority of UK businesses do not offer university placement schemes and are failing to prepare undergraduates for the workplace, according to research by Aldi.

The supermarket chain said that 50% of students who had undertaken a placement went on to secure a permanent role within the same company, demonstrating that such schemes offer good preparation for young professionals.

However, Aldi found that 71% of companies do not offer a university placement scheme and said that this suggests many do not recognise the benefits which students can offer.

Firms said they do not offer placements because they have funding restraints (36%), do not believe they are worthwhile to their business (23%), and require fully qualified employees (19%).

The study also found that less than 2% of students would choose the retail industry for a placement, indicating that retailers need to do more to attract graduates.

The financial, health and construction sectors each polled 8%, making them the most attractive industries among students considering placements.

Although a third (35%) of the students polled said that they had not had the opportunity to take part in a placement, 54% of those who had firmly believed it had improved their job prospects.

Aldi will be increasing the number of positions available through its Retail Placement Scheme to 40 in 2013, up from 28 last year, to help attract undergraduates to the sector.

The Retail Placement Scheme is a nine month placement during which students get experience working in each of the key areas of a retail business.

Over the nine months students are rotated around different departments, including store operations, logistics, trading, property, training and financial administration, and at the end successful students are offered a place on Aldi's graduate Area Management Programme.

Richard Holloway, the head of recruitment at Aldi, said: "Aldi believes in attracting the best talent to the business, and we look to identify suitable candidates at an early stage at universities, before offering positions on Aldi's Retail Placement Scheme."

Copyright Press Association 2013