BUSINESS leaders have urged to join the debate about the future of graduate employment.

Graduates Yorkshire and The Graduate Network are hosting the fourth annual Graduate Employment Conference on Thursday, May 19, at the Park Plaza Hotel in Leeds.

Graduate internships schemes, including those operated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, regional development agencies and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are drawing to a close over the next couple of months.

Speakers at the conference will consider the next steps for internships and universities as well as business perceptions of graduates and graduate opportunities outside London. It will also explore trends in social media for recruitment, job hunting and careers advice.

The event will also mark the launch of The Graduate Network’s inaugural survey of national employers, which will be distributed to more than 80,000 employers across England to establish salary benchmarks and industry trends.

The region’s recruitment experts at Graduates Yorkshire have placed 130 interns in the past year and 85% of these have been retained in full-time employment. The scheme has also helped graduates to become more employable by providing business coaching and mentoring. Martin Edmondson, chief executive at Graduates Yorkshire, said: “With a lack of support from the Government for graduates leaving university and the unemployment rate among young people reaching its highest rate since the 1990s, competition in the jobs market is fierce.

“Graduates need to increase their employability to maximise their chances of securing their dream job after university. This means preparing for the working world early on and gaining valuable work experience, learning interview techniques and acquiring transferable skills in their roles while at university.

“This event will highlight the support structures in place to help these graduates in their chosen career.

“We hope to address some of the key issues facing graduates in today’s job market and put real measures in place to address these challenges.”

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