Modernising the student ecosystem from Freshers to First Jobs

The acquisition of Gradguide, a career events, mentorship and graduate recruitment platform that helps to bridge the gap from college to company, plays into native’s ambitions to further unify and modernise the student ecosystem across the UK.

Since forming in 2015, native has amassed 1.6 million students on their platform. We support campuses across the UK and Ireland with powerful engagement tools and give global advertisers direct access to new on-and-offline media channels to reach students.

These valuable incremental marketing revenues and partnerships help to drive engagement, to ultimately improve the student experience.

But what do students actually want from their university experience?

Students’ priorities are changing. Winding back the clock to my time at university, it would be common to hear students place a strong importance on making friends, having fun and even delaying full-time employment. Today, while making friends and having fun is still in students’ top 5 priorities, getting the best job is one of the main reasons why students go to university and we’re excited to support them more holistically in this area.

The reality is perhaps unsurprising as the last four years have seen students face unprecedented times and financial hardship. Students’ mindset and priorities have shifted and 58% have been forced into part-or-full time work alongside their studies. As a result, they want – and expect – to land their dream job once they graduate; rightly so.

The question is, are they ready and do they have the necessary support to find and land that job, let alone perform well in it?  Nearly half (47%) of students report selecting their institution for career prospects, but only 11% felt very prepared for work on graduating.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

From the very beginning, native has set out to improve the student experience to ensure that students have the best time at university. To stay true to this, and better support students as they transition from education to employment, we are expanding into the graduate employability space through the acquisition of Gradguide.

Founded by Mark Hughes in 2019 with the aim of becoming the #1 community for graduates seeking jobs in the tech industry, Gradguide has grown rapidly with over 20,000 graduates signed up to the platform, 350+ mentors supporting graduates in their tech job aspirations and 65 partners across the tech sector.

This year will see the Gradguide proposition expand beyond the realms of tech as the team enters new industries. Through native’s existing partnerships with over 75 Students’ Unions across the country, Gradguide is in a unique and prime position to continue this rapid growth beyond the current mentorship, job fair and graduate recruitment set-up. The goal is to connect more Students’ Unions, job-ready students and employers, faster.

As the beating hearts of universities, Students’ Unions open the doors to a huge number of student-filled voluntary roles within clubs and societies. These roles provide  rare opportunities to learn and improve ‘job readiness’ skills outside of a work environment. Until now, these skills and competencies have never been verified, or given a performance rating. For this reason, recruiters have found it difficult to place great significance on these experiences when hiring for future graduate roles.

In 2023, we are excited to launch a number of new products for Students’ Unions to help students to find part-time jobs, enable them to verify, measure and track the transferable skills that students gain both in casual jobs as well as through their voluntary roles that they perform as members of the Students’ Unions clubs and societies.

This is just the beginning of the journey though. We want to change the game in terms of graduate employability, so that every student has the support that they need to land that dream job. This will require a multi-year effort to roll out services that enable students to discover, break into and succeed in their chosen careers, which in turn will provide companies with the most job-ready candidates in the market.

It’s a win-win-win. Students leave university feeling better prepared for the world of work. Students’ Unions and universities can demonstrate the impact they’ve had on employability. Graduate employers can hire from a large and diverse pool of students, with confidence in their job readiness.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024