Graduates, we all know the struggle of finding employment, especially in a climate that doesn’t seem to know if it’s coming or going. We’re facing uncertain times in the world, and it’s so very very daunting when we’re trying to take those first steps after uni in becoming independent.
But have you ever thought about graduate schemes?
I’m not talking grad schemes from the big banks, the corporate giants that rope you into the monotony of an office (with a pretty, pretty paycheck all the same), especially as more and more of us millennials are looking for something different. You’ve seen all the articles saying that more of us than ever want to do something creative, something meaningful, whilst the baby boomers shake their heads at our endeavours to do something worthwhile. It’s hard to feel like you’re making a difference when you also need to pay the bills and potentially, sort of eventually save for a down-payment on a house.
What I’m talking about are graduate schemes that offer something a little different, the ones that you don’t necessarily see advertised on your uni job boards or on the first page of Indeed/Reed. The grad schemes that I think make an interesting alternative, ones that I was looking at before I landed the job I’m in currently. Graduate schemes like Unlocked.
Unlocked is a new graduate scheme looking at recruiting grads to become prison officers – and before you go ‘Fii, why the heck are you talking about this?’ we all know I’m pretty vocal on social issues, so even though this isn’t to do with work in the fashion or beauty industry, it’s something that I think is actually pretty crucial.
Unlocked Graduates is aiming to raise the status of prison officers and lower the number of people leaving the prison system who reoffend. This is something I can definitely get behind as it affects all of our safety.
It will aim to replicate other successful public sector recruitment schemes, like ‘Teach First’, for teacher recruitment, and Frontline, for social workers, which have proved pretty incredible for getting graduates into careers they may have not thought about previously, careers where the ‘way in’ may seem pretty impossible to find, or are a valuable platform to use as a springboard for future employment. The Secretary of State for Justice Liz Truss backs the scheme, and organisations such as the Civil Service Fast Stream, Ernst & Young, PwC, and Teach First, have all lent their support to Unlocked.
The hope is that the participants will become ambassadors for the programme, helping to reduce the reoffending rates by encouraging employers to take on more ex-offenders into their workforces. After all, re-offences often occur when the person in question can’t get out of the situation that caused them to offend in the first place, they become trapped in a cycle that makes it hard to leave those circumstances, and so the likelihood of reoffending increases dramatically. It’s sad that a society that is so focused on moving forwards, moving up, and bettering ourselves collectively, can turn an effective blind eye to the ways we fail groups of people in our society. Prison Officers play a really important role in the reformation process, “they[’re]… mentors, counsellors, teachers, police officers and social workers” (Natasha Porter, CEO of Unlocked).
Unlocked is a 2-year scheme where participants will complete a master’s degree whilst gaining valuable work experience on the job alongside other officers. The selection process takes into account not only academic credentials, but also leadership and communications skills – so if you’re fab at leading a team (uni societies or sports, for example), or have a bit of a silver tongue, I’d definitely suggest checking Unlocked out. Existing prison officers will be mentors to the participants, so there’s lots of support available. Also, you have the opportunity to potentially influence government by developing a policy paper during the scheme!
Once the two years is over, you can either continue to work in the service, or use the experience gained to join other public sector organisations, or go into private sector work. Some of the potential careers are in areas like government and public policy, law, and consultancy. It’s something a little different to have on your CV in any case, and may prove to be a valuable talking point that sets you apart from other applicants for positions in the future.
If you relish a challenge, something complex that’s a little bit different to what you’d considered doing once you leave university, then I’d definitely suggest checking out Unlocked’s website (it’s linked below!) to learn more about the application process, and more information about the programme. If the money is what sways you, then the starting salary is between £28,456 - £31,453, with a potential for a £4k uplift in the second year with participation in that policy paper I mentioned earlier. Application dates for the second intake start in the Autumn, so that’s plenty of time to either finish up that degree of yours, or consider applying if this has been interesting for you!
Unlocked honestly sounds like a brilliant initiative to get involved in if you feel like you want to make a change in the lives of people, and potentially the UK’s justice system.
Have you come across any different graduate schemes before? What do you think of Unlocked, is it something you’d apply for? Let me know below!
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