Professional Services: a career of choice for those entering the world of work

Development Monthly | #18 April 2023 | Professional Services: a career of choice for those entering the world of work

Vikki Goddard (she/her)

AUA Chair

The AUA will soon launch its new strategy, setting out the Association’s priorities for the next five years.

Our new direction will ensure that we support and facilitate those within the Professional Services community to consider their career options and achieve their ambitions. There will be a particular focus on attracting and developing early career individuals.

Vikki Goddard, Chair of Trustees at the AUA, shares her thoughts on the value of hiring recent graduates and apprentices. Read Vikki’s blog to hear her views on the topic and to get an insight into the AUA’s future strategy.

The AUA, as part of its new direction, will focus on professional staff considering their career options, particularly early career individuals.  

At the heart of the AUA are equity, diversity and inclusion. We wholeheartedly believe that focusing on new and recent graduates can offer richness to the variety of the HE professional community. We know that at present, as for most sectors in the UK, HE is facing challenges in attracting, recruiting and retaining Professional Services staff. However, institutions already focus considerable energy on bringing in recent graduates in a wide variety of areas to deliver professional services. There is widespread recognition of our graduates’ value to the workplace, with HE institutions already providing substantial opportunities for graduates.   

Structured graduate internships enable recent graduates to begin their careers in HE Professional Services, gain experience working in various areas, develop their skills, and understand their potential career direction. They also enable each university to understand and relate to the service provided to students. A number of universities run graduate schemes which again bring in those graduates and provide them with a structured programme and a career path. 

The AUA has been talking with institutions across the UK and other professional associations about supporting institutions to deliver on their recruitment and retention plans, with a particular emphasis on providing a clear and cohesive career pathway from entry-level, including graduates, to established senior leaders.  

We are working with respected HE sector organisations such as AHUA, with which we have a history of working closely on these issues, for example, through the previous Ambitious Futures graduate trainee scheme. Together, we will harness our collective efforts to raise the profile of Professional Services and encourage an inclusive and diverse approach to attracting new people to the sector. Through this, the AUA will support Higher and Further Education institutions to widen access to Professional Services roles.  

One of the ways institutions can attract a more diverse professional services pipeline is to look beyond the graduate market. For example, many institutions have already developed high-quality apprenticeship routes. More generally, compared with last year, there was a 22.1% increase in the number of apprenticeship views on Career Finder, suggesting more interest in apprenticeship routes. In addition, evidence from the Social Mobility Commission (2020) indicates that disadvantaged learners benefit most from an apprenticeship route. Therefore, institutions are right to not just think about the graduate market but also to create attractive apprenticeship opportunities for those entering the world of work.  

To conclude, there is much value in, as a sector, focusing on attracting and retaining graduates in Professional Services. However, we can and must go beyond this and make HE Professional Services a career of choice for those who have also followed an alternative route to degree education.  

Vikki Goddard, AUA Chair of Trustees 

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