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Training and development

Your first graduate job will help you develop your knowledge and skills, whether through on-the-job training or professional qualifications.

When you begin your first graduate job it’s likely that you will need to undertake some training before you are fully versed in your new role. But there can be a lot more on offer, and making the most of these opportunities can also benefit your career in the long term.

Large graduate recruiters will have very structured programmes of induction and training for new graduates, but most large employers will also have training or education departments that encourage staff to take advantage of in-house training or external programmes. You may be offered:

  • Professional training courses, studied over a period of time through distance learning or day-release, involving assessment and exams accredited to a professional body.
  • Academic programmes at postgraduate level requiring part-time study. Programmes may provide further specialisation, for example an MSc in Treasury Finance, or more general study such as an MBA, MEng, or MEd.
  • One-off courses delivered in-house or by external training providers to update knowledge, increase confidence and hone work-related skills, for example in time management, presentation skills, health and safety, project management or customer relationship management.

Professional qualifications

Many graduates starting work will have the opportunity to train for professional qualifications. The area of business and finance is particularly noted for new graduates following specific professional exams, for example in accountancy, taxation, insurance, banking, marketing or human resources. Other more technical careers such as engineering or surveying also give the chance to study for a professional qualification.

These qualifications show that you have reached a standard of competency in your chosen field and also demonstrate your commitment to a career. Professional qualifications allow access to your relevant professional body and the range of resources and contacts they offer for further career development. You can find professional bodies through the 'Jobs and employers' search on this website. 

Continuing professional development

You are also likely to come across the idea of continuing professional development (CPD). Broadly, this describes any activity, whether formal course or personal study, that helps you do your job better and get on faster in your career. Precisely what constitutes CPD depends on your own needs and employment circumstances. In some organisations the staff appraisal system may be used to pinpoint training needs, analysing the skills you have already gained and what you would like to achieve next.

As well as helping employees to develop their careers, CPD programmes are also used by employers to ensure that their staff are appropriately equipped to perform their job role. While some sectors concentrate on professional qualifications, others, such as health and social care, the Civil Service and teaching, place greater importance on ongoing training through short courses and postgraduate study.

Most graduates no longer expect a ‘job for life’. Technology, changes in working practice and competition in the global economy have all had an impact on the world of work and job security. Graduates today realise that their working life may be varied and needs to encompass time for personal as well as career development, for example travelling or bringing up a family. As the job market becomes more flexible, it is even more important to manage your career, ensuring that you plan for change and develop skills and knowledge that are relevant to your work.