Graduate Advantage reduces costs for business

Guy McEvoy, Managing Director of GuyKat Solutions (left) with Hannah Quinton, graduate intern (centre) & Natasha Addison, Internship Co-ordinator at Graduate Advantage

27 March 2012

With increased calls to cut employment red tape to enable small businesses to take on more staff to reduce unemployment, Graduate Advantage (GA) an internship finding service based at Aston University, is offering a cost-saving solution.

Small businesses within the West Midlands have the opportunity to reduce the time they spend on recruitment, and can save up to £400 in Employer’s National Insurance costs through GA’s free Payroll & HR Services.

Research from the British Chambers of Commerce has revealed that of 60% of 2,000 small businesses surveyed wanted to take on more employees but legislation was stopping them from doing so.* 

Through GA businesses can source fresh and enthusiastic graduate talent for a short term project or role without incurring advertising and recruitment fees, as well as reducing the time they have to spend on search and selection.

One company that is benefiting from the Payroll Service is GuyKat Solutions based at Birmingham Science Park who recruited Hannah Quinton, a History graduate, on a 3 month eLearning internship. The Payroll Service supports GuyKat for the first 12 weeks of the internship by paying the intern’s salary. The employer then contributes the gross salary minus the employer National Insurance to the GA project.

"Employment law is scary to small business. It feels too risky to take new folk on. This scheme reduces that risk, saves the business money in both recruitment costs and NI, and has allowed us give someone paid work and a genuine chance,” said Guy McEvoy, Managing Director of GuyKat.  

Clara Wilcox, Project Manager at Graduate Advantage added: “The uptake on the Payroll Service has been positive and many companies are benefiting. By offering this service GA are not only encouraging economic growth but giving businesses the opportunity to gain graduate skills and expertise.”

Funded and supported by West Midlands' universities, Graduate Advantage is a unique one stop shop for businesses to find their perfect intern. Graduate Advantage is based at Aston University and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For further information contact Claire Goodwin, Graduate Advantage on 0121 204 4769 or email

Editor’s Notes:

Graduate Advantage

Graduate Advantage arranges both paid and voluntary internships across the West Midlands. It is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2002 to build and improve links between the business community and the graduate population within the region. The scheme is supported by a consortium of universities, led by Aston University. The West Midlands is the only region in England to have this kind of service.

Through Graduate Advantage’s unique way of funding, all of our front-end recruitment services are FREE of charge including advertising, short-listing and selection as well as our new Payroll and HR Service; saving businesses both time and money.

Graduate Advantage can supply businesses with graduates possessing skills in Marketing, Business, IT, Science, Design and Engineering, as well as enthusiasm and a genuine desire to gain work experience.

Graduate Advantage has been made up of a number of projects and has delivered in excess of 2000 internships in its last funding round (up to end of March 2011).

By using Graduate Advantage’s FREE Payroll and HR Service, businesses can:

  • Save costs – through their Payroll Service Graduate Advantage will cover the employers National Insurance contributions of 13.8%; saving businesses on average £400
  • Reduce your admin burden – Graduate Advantage will check the graduate’s eligibility to work in the UK and process all employment paperwork
  • Remove the recruitment headache – using their services businesses can leave it to Graduate Advantage to select the best graduates to choose from
  • Try before you buy – a business can see how a new employee would fit into their organisation before any formal commitment is made
  • Flexible recruitment – using Graduate Advantage’s services businesses can increase resources but not add to your staff. 


The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme which runs from 2007 to 2013, is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help regions stimulate their economic development.

The West Midlands ERDF Programme has been allocated 400 million euros to invest in projects which will support regional businesses and create jobs.

Activities which are supported by ERDF cover specific areas:

  • Innovation and R&D
  • Enterprise Development
  • Sustainable Urban Development
  • Inter-Regional Activity

The Programme is managed and delivered in the region the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

This offer available to private sector small businesses, registered charities or social enterprises based in the West Midlands region, subject to criteria. For the purposes of this scheme a small business is categorised as having less than 50 employees (full-time workers employed during one year with part-time workers being fractions of one full-time worker) and has either an annual turnover of 50 million euros (c.34 million sterling) or less or a balance sheet of 43 million euros (c.39 million sterling) or less and is less than 25% owned by one or more companies not falling into this definition (for example public investment corporations, institutional investors or venture capital companies, provided no control is exercised Graduate Advantage will pay the graduate intern on a weekly basis. Your business will contribute towards the hourly rate. The hourly rate is a minimum of £6.75 per hour. 

*British Chamber of Commerce Workforce Survey published on 3 October 2011 revealed the barriers for growth for small firms. Their report revealed that small businesses (those with between 10-49 employees) want to grow, but their ambitions are frustrated by too much red tape.

In a survey of over 2,000 small businesses, almost two thirds (60%) wanted to take on more employees. However, their ambitions to grow are often severely frustrated by the difficulties of complying with employment regulation.