As an avid football (not soccer but football) fan, watching World Cup 2018 was a real pleasure, and I must confess I don’t think I missed a single game – I either watched or listened to every game whilst at work! Two things struck me by the end of the tournament:

  • For all of the things that we are force-fed about Russia by mainstream media and all of the bogeyman yarns that are spun about President Putin – this World Cup (the 5th that I can recall watching) was the best yet! The lesson here is: go to Russia, meet Russian people, eat Russian food and make up your own mind from your own experiences. A valuable wider lesson in general.
  • The importance of youth [read Graduate Programmes].

Fear not reader, as much as I’d like to write an op-ed extolling the achievements of Putin and the wonders of the Russian people, this blog is going to focus on recruitment and the more nuanced space of Graduate Recruitment.

Looking at the winning team – France – one thing struck me above all else: their youth. France’s average squad age was 26 years-old, the joint second-youngest at the tournament. And their star player (arguably), Kylian Mbappé, is 19 years-old!

Now, if we take a step back and examine what the FFF (French FA) did and the changes that they implemented post their disastrous World Cup 2002: the restructuring of their Football Association, the setting up of a national football centre at Clairefontaine and the wholesale changes made at grassroots level – it’s clear that the setting up of a centralised, dedicated youth development programme is bearing fruit.

Of course, this is nothing new. The Germans did the same with excellent results in 2014. More recently, England did it with St. George’s Park and the Serbian FA before them in Stara Pazova (England and Serbia being the last two winners of FIFA’s under-20 edition of the World Cup).

So for me, the gains to be made from a centralised, structured and properly managed youth academy [read Graduate Programme] are clear to see; and even at the most basic level, the translation of such an approach from a professional sports context into a professional ‘professional’ context obviously makes sense.

Clearly, graduate programmes are nothing new. But frankly, neither is the setting up of a centralised, structured programme for the development of talent (footballing talent in the cases given above) nor is it rocket science. For me, the crux of it is in the investment and the execution. In a nutshell – doing it right.

All one has to do is take a look at the Times’ UK Top 25 Big Companies and then compare these to the list of Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. The correlation is clear – investment in properly ran Graduate Programmes translates into success at the bottom line. 

Do you have ambitions of reaching the pinnacle within your sector? Are you struggling to develop your own “home-grown” talent? At TMP, we have a standalone Entry Level Talent function, directly responsible for managing our clients’ Graduate Programmes on their behalf. These services can be delivered as both one-off or as part of a wider talent solution. Why not contact us?

Written by Lazar Tomović, Bid Manager.