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New Earn as you Learn Scheme for Students to Reduce Graduate Debt and Bridge Skills Gap

A new earn-as-you-learn scheme for students is being launched by Katie Bard recruitment in Birmingham to help students fund their studies, reduce their debt and to provide them with commercial skills which will help them secure a foot on the career ladder on graduation.

‘Earn as you learn’ is currently being piloted by Katie Bard, which has hired 21-year-old student Damian Leese to work part-time during his final year at Birmingham University.

However, in October, the scheme will be rolled out across the UK. It will be adopted by other recruitment consultancy businesses within the Angela Mortimer group and offered to the company’s UK clients, who will be encouraged to open their doors to students as well.

Earn-as-you-learn is the brainchild of Katie Bard Divisional Leader Chris Knowles, who had seen an increasing number of students graduating with huge amounts of debt and a lack of skills or work experience. Earlier this year, research from NatWest bank, stated that students starting university now would graduate with almost £15,000 debt on average. Furthermore, debt is the main cause of university drop out rates.

Chris Knowles comments, “The steep rise in the number of graduates over the past few years means that competition for jobs is tougher than ever. If employers are going to expect graduates to have relevant commercial, ICT and communication skills, then they need to proactively provide this experience. This means opening their doors to students and offering them relevant employment opportunities while they are still at university.”

A survey of graduates commissioned by Angela Mortimer in May 2006 revealed that work experience and learning new skills are the top priorities for 75% of first jobbers and 75% of respondents were willing to work for free to gain work experience.

“Earn as you learn provides the answer to the graduate skills gap but equally provides financial support that students desperately need to pay for their tuition fees. Businesses benefit too – they have bright, motivated staff to support them and they have the opportunity to train and hopefully retain top talent by offering students trainees full time employment on graduation,” Knowles continued.

Damian Leese has started his third year reading History at Birmingham University. During his summer break, he worked at Katie Bard as a business co-ordinator, and he will continue his employment throughout his final year. He is a permanent, part-time employee on a competitive salary.

Damian says: “Working at Katie Bard is a great opportunity for me to learn valuable business skills, while at the same time earning enough money to keep my student debt in check. When I graduate next year, I will be in the fortunate position of being able to offer potential employers a full year of work experience on top of my degree.”


Heather Baker / Kathryn Hughes
020 7612 1830 /

Katie Bard
Katie Bard recruitment was launched in 1976 to match skilled support staff with companies. Katie Bard’s consultants look beyond just the skills needed. They spend time investigating and matching the attitude and the long-term goals of both job and candidate.
The organisation’s candidates are encouraged to be decision makers and progress to senior positions. Katie Bard now has offices in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and Paris. It is a member of the Angela Mortimer group.
The Annual Blue Book

The Annual Blue Book is a salary survey based on candidate placement figures and market expertise of Angela Mortimer’s 200 consultants. The book provides an overview of market conditions in a variety of industries including Media, Finance and Design. The survey provides high and low salaries for each sector and also indicates the market average.

The 2005 survey revealed increased recruitment demand in all locations and specialist sectors during 2004 and predicted a candidate-driven market throughout 2005. With a few exceptions, salary increase is not usually the key driver for candidates to move jobs, with opportunity and development being the main factors. Furthermore, organisations will need to streamline their recruitment processes as job seekers are increasingly receiving multiple job offers.