Graduates pour out of Universities each year. Alison Boyle looks at how companies can find the right person for them and graduates can find the right company for themselves...

in universities across the country, final year students are currently fighting it out for places on the growing number of graduate recruitment schemes now available in a host of companies and organisations.

Although these schemes have existed for many years, today's programmes tend to be more sophisticated, with employers becoming more particular about who they take on board.

Employers are also having to adapt to the demands of a new generation who want the ethics and personal values of a company to match their own. And with an estimated £300m wasted on graduate recruitment each year, it has never been more important for both parties to ensure they can work together.

According to SHL, who specialise in the objective assessment of people, their jobs and the organisational context in which they work, a third of graduates will jump ship within 2.4 years of starting work.

Roy Davis SHL's head of communications says: "A high percentage of companies in the insurance industry are now involved in graduate recruitment schemes but because of the perceived skills shortage, all the companies are competing for a small pool of calibre students.

"In addition, organisations have become more discerning. Instead of looking for the best graduate , they are now looking for the right graduate. It is criminal the money that can be wasted on graduate recruitment and this is to do with the appalling match-up of people with jobs. It is all about managing expectations."

He believes that the development of the internet will play a role in allowing companies to make known what their expectations are and also let potential employees see if a company suits them before applying or being recruited.

Although milk rounds are still used, they are a hit and miss selection method and can be time consuming. So another benefit of the internet, according to SHL, is that it enables employers to visit all universities, which increases the pool of graduates, as well as saving money.

Psychometric testing is also helping as it allows companies to evaluate people on a level playing field with a fair and open approach. It also saves time for companies by filtering out people that are not suited.

Buffy Stock, director at Joslin Rowe Associates, however, says psychometric testing should not be used on its own. He says: "There has been a lot of scepticism surrounding psychometric testing, and it has been claimed that they measure the ability to acquire knowledge, rather than apply that knowledge, and that they cover a very narrow range of abilities. However, these tests should simply be used as part of an integrated recruitment process."

Many recruitment specialists are of the belief that the graduate recruitment process in the insurance industry has room for improvement. This is also a view endorsed by Freddie Hospedales, divisional director of marketing at the Chartered Insurance Institute. He believes that insurance companies should recruit better quality people at the beginning of their career and play a role in developing their skills.

He says: "The insurance industry is good for developing the career paths of people later in their career, but they should be getting people to specialise earlier and become professionals.

"People in the top jobs at companies in the industry today are not necessarily from an insurance background and we need to get more insurance-related people into those jobs.

"People wonder why independent Insurance has been so successful but all its staff are CII qualified. They also take the training of their graduates seriously and more companies need to do this.

"The insurance industry has some of the best people working in it, but it needs to keep recruiting and developing staff that will stay."