WITH job opportunities for graduates at a five-year high in Jersey there has never been a better time to return to the island armed with a degree. And, as the number of degree courses available on-island increases, you may not even have to go away to become qualified for the growing number of trainee jobs available.

For hundreds of young islanders anxiously awaiting their A-level results this month it is reassuring to know that committing to a university place could translate into first class career prospects here in the island after graduating. It can often be difficult to decide whether it’s worth embarking on another three/four years of studying when those who choose to enter the workplace straight from college will be earning money straight away and starting to climb the career ladder. But news that having a degree is regarded highly by local employers, at a time when business confidence is growing, should make that choice easier.

Currently, 75% of Park’s trainee jobs available are for graduates. The last six months in particular has seen a huge surge in graduate recruitment activity. Local employers are welcoming driven and highly motivated local graduates with open arms. We’re also seeing an upturn in the variety of options available to graduates – we currently have opportunities in HR, marketing, law, accounting, banking, IT, compliance, trust, funds, investments and telecommunications

This year some employers are offering two-year fast track graduate training programmes.

Firms recruiting range from global financial institutions to dynamic trust and fund administration businesses, market leading utility providers, award winning law firms, digital start-ups and ecommerce enterprises.

There used to be, and perhaps still is, a misconception in Jersey that graduate jobs within financial services are boring. Graduates tell me that they want to be challenged, they want variety, and, most importantly, they want scope for progression. Well, the graduate jobs that I’m recruiting for, a large majority of which are within financial services, offer all that and lots more.

For example, training as an accountant won’t just involve number crunching; the big four want their graduate trainees to not only be able to review a set of accounts but to build relationships with their clients, stand up in a board room and present a proposal and go on to manage a team one day. These organisations also offer global mobility programmes, so opportunities for secondment are real and they do happen.

So how do I get a place on one of these top graduate schemes?

My top tip on leaving university and applying for jobs is to research, research, research. Employers want graduates to be able to demonstrate why they want to work for them. Make the most of university life and extra-curricular activities to develop general skills. Planning early to get relevant work experience will provide transferable skills and remember to record everything so examples can be pulled out on applications and in interviews.

Speak to recruiters before you graduate – at Park we offer a dedicated graduate service. We can talk you through all the options available to you, help you with your CV and guide you through interviews and assessment centres.

The same advice applies to those who choose to study for a degree on-island. Jersey International Business School & Highlands College run some first rate under-graduate programmes locally, which makes studying for a degree more affordable for some students.