Programmes that offer graduates a route into industry

A selection of organisations recruiting graduates explain what they are looking for in their hires

The Chartered Governance Institute

For graduates seeking an insight into how some of the most successful corporations, businesses and firms in Ireland are run, then a place on The Chartered Governance Institute graduate scheme, to become a company secretary or chartered governance professional, could be just the ticket. Ensuring organisations operate sustainably, ethically and responsibly, this is a position where graduates can have influence, working with company boards and senior decision-makers from the get-go.

Those with a business, finance or law degree can launch their career immediately with their qualifying programme. Those with no legal or business background can enter the scheme through its foundation programme, where graduates will earn a level 4 foundation certificate before progressing to the next stage of the programme.

Qualifying as a chartered governance professional or chartered secretary is achieved by completing the Chartered Governance Qualifying Programme or an ICSA-validated postgraduate programme at its partner university, Ulster University, which can be taken in Dublin. Students taking either option will take exams and study for about two to three years before qualifying. Study can be undertaken while working, blending the practical with the theoretical, so students can gain invaluable practical experience alongside an internationally recognised qualification.



The Lidl Graduate Development Programme is an 18-month programme with the German supermarket giant, directed at graduates seeking to enter one of the programme's nine streams: ecommerce; IT; sales; management; accounting; marketing; environment, health and safety; audit; purchasing; and central services.

All graduates hit the ground running, beginning with a four-month operational training programme before being placed in their chosen area for the remaining 14 months of the programme. Graduates then get to experience all aspects of how the business works, spending time in stores, warehouses and head office. One-to-one coaching, as well as a structured mentorship programme, and competency assessment days are also part of the programme.

"We're looking for potential to develop and progress, so soft skills are key, such as effective communication, entrepreneurial actions, organisational and problem-solving skills," says Aoibheann Maddy, recruitment and retention at Lidl Ireland, explaining what kind of applicants they seek. "For us, it's important to recruit graduates with a growth mindset, who are looking for opportunities to develop and learn and who are adaptable and open to change."

The programme runs annually, with applications closing on October 31st, 2019, for those applying for positions on the 2020 programme.


The Aldi Graduate Area Management Programme offers recent graduates an opportunity to pursue a career in management over the 12-month scheme. Each year, Aldi recruits about 100 area managers across the UK and Ireland through the scheme, although this figure is ever-increasing as the business expands.

Successful applicants begin the programme in store for six months, before transitioning to shadow many different, experienced area managers, in anticipation of eventually taking charge of their own stores. In the final six months, in addition to shadowing, graduates train with regional teams, such as store operations, logistics, and buying.

Graduates will have a dedicated mentor, as well as regular one-to-one sessions with colleagues.

"Training at Aldi puts graduates right into the heart of the action, where they work their way through every role in store to gain a real understanding of how the business works," explains Hannah Condron, personnel development manager at Aldi Ireland. "Every day is different at Aldi, and it's important that our graduates are exposed to this reality during their training."

Applications for the Aldi Graduate Area Management Programme for 2020 are open until November 30th, 2019.


The Jameson International Graduate Programme employs 80 graduates on its programme across 50 international markets, recruiting 20 to 30 new graduates each year.

Successful applicants are offered an initial 13-month contract, which includes four weeks' training followed by 12 months on placement in their assigned market. Following this 13-month period, graduates can then apply to rotate markets and extend for a further 12 or 24 months. Upon completion of the programme, 70 per cent of graduates move into permanent positions within either Irish Distillers or Pernod Ricard globally.

“No two days are the same on the Jameson International Graduate Programme,” says Sinéad D’Arcy, head of the programme. “One day, a brand ambassador could be educating bartenders on Jameson Irish Whiskey, the next you could be hosting an event, the next you could be interviewed on a local radio show.” The variety, she says, means graduates must have strong time and project-management skills, as well as a passion for the work they are doing.

Those seeking to apply do so through an online application, which includes a brief written application as well as a two-minute video submission, allowing applicants to tell their own story. The online application for the 2020 intake of the programme closes on January 15th, 2020.

Public Jobs

Public Jobs runs its graduate programme for those wishing to enter the Civil Service. The programme is about nine months in duration, and graduates undertake eight modules over the course of the programme – in administrative office competencies: leadership potential; interpersonal and communication; analysis and decision-making; and delivering for results; and Civil Service modules: communication in the Civil Service; Government accounting; evidence-based policy making; and introduction to the legislative process.

Applicants must have a first or second class honours degree, while applicants to specialist streams such as business, finance and human resources must have a relevant level 8 qualification. Graduates will receive guidance and input from subject matter experts adapted to their level in order to allow them to flourish, both personally and in the workplace. The graduate programme "encourages participants to begin to develop their professional network of Civil Service colleagues and to learn to collaborate with those of different departments with competing priorities and perspectives, in preparation for their future careers as leaders of the Civil Service," says Fiona Farrell, marketing and communications officer at the Public Appointments Service. Applications will open online from Tuesday, October 1st, until 3pm on Monday, October 7th.


The Fulbright Commission in Ireland awards grants to Irish citizens to study, research or lecture in the US, and for Americans to do the same in Ireland. Grants are available across all disciplines, and offer additional opportunities in areas such as health, new technologies, climate change, sustainability, marine science, forestry, and many others.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by Senator J William Fulbright, seeking to foster mutual cultural understanding between countries through educational exchange. Since its foundation, 2,000 individuals have participated in the programme between Ireland and the US. Fulbright Irish Awards are open to Irish citizens, or EU citizens who have been living in the Republic of Ireland for at least the last three years. The awards are open to current or prospective postgraduate students, scholars, and professionals with at least five years' relevant professional experience.

Emma Loughney, communications manager at the Fulbright Commission of Ireland, advises: "Applicants must demonstrate a strong rationale for going to the US, strong leadership skills or potential, and an understanding and commitment to the ethos of being a Fulbrighter."

The application deadline for the 2020-2021 Fulbright Irish Awards is October 31st, 2019.

Aer Lingus

The Aer Lingus Graduate Recruitment Programme offers graduates the opportunity to learn about the aviation industry, while working across both corporate office and operational areas. Aer Lingus currently employs 16 graduate employees, and will take on four more to start the two-year programme in September 2019.

Graduates on the scheme specialise in the specific department of most interest to them, with current graduates working across finance, revenue management, operations, marketing, HR and engineering. Those working in the finance department will stay with the company for the duration of their professional exams, that is, about 3½ years.

Because of the vast size of the company and the range of departments, interpersonal and teamwork skills are of extreme importance for incoming graduates. Graduates are assigned experienced mentors to offer them guidance and advice outside of their day-to-day tasks.

"Aer Lingus is focused on nurturing talent, sharing our knowledge of the airline business, and constant learning and feedback in an ever-evolving industry, creating a great work experience for graduates," says Tess Brady of Aer Lingus. "Ongoing training is central to the programme, with a strong investment in professional development along with on-the-job learning."

Applications for the next programme intake open in early 2020, with assessment taking place in spring, and induction taking place in September 2020.


Each year, KPMG takes on 350 graduates to its programme across its four offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.

The programme employs graduates from all degree disciplines, including accounting and business, but also technology, science, maths and engineering. The scheme consists of a mix of client work and team projects, while working towards the professional chartered accounting qualifications, preparing graduates for long-term careers.

The graduate programmes typically last between three and 3½ years, and for those pursuing them, continue for the duration of graduates’ professional exams. “We believe that training is about more than preparing you for your professional exams; it is about preparing you for a career as a professional business adviser, through on-the-job development and relevant formal training programmes,” explains Kelli O’Malley, communications manager at KPMG.

Applications for the 2020 programme close on October 13th for non-chartered accountant roles, and October 16th for chartered accountant roles.


Deloitte runs nine graduate programmes every year, with each focused on a different kind of role: audit and assurance; actuarial, reward and analytics; consulting; restructuring services; risk advisory; tax; technology programmes; apprentice solicitor programmes; and Deloitte (Northern Ireland).

Each of the pathways varies in length, depending on the professional qualifications undertaken by the individual graduate.

Deloitte employs more than 3,000 people in Ireland, with graduate opportunities available in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.

Deloitte is seeking graduates from a wide range of backgrounds. “Throughout your graduate training and entire career, you’ll connect and collaborate with colleagues across different teams, to tackle challenges for our clients,” explains Finola Gallagher-Taaffe, manager of talent and learning at Deloitte. “From the moment you join, you’ll be treated the same as your more experienced colleagues, valued for the unique contribution you make and the fresh ideas you bring.”

Graduate applications for 2020 close on Wednesday, October 16th, 2019.


The PwC graduate programme can last between 3½ and five years, depending on what exam route the graduate takes for its professional exams. PwC also offers graduate contracts to students in its consulting practice who opt to take a non-exam route.

PwC takes on 350 graduates each year across its various programmes. It seeks ambitious students who wish to progress and develop personally and within the firm, and those with a strong academic record, great technical skills and excellent relationship-building skills. While on the programme, graduates receive in-class training and support as well as career progression assistance as they near the end of the programme.

"The culture at PwC offers more than just a place to work," says people partner Emma Scott. "Graduates will be joining a value-driven, innovative, collaborative, tech-enabled workplace. From day one, graduates can expect to work on interesting and important projects, supported by their teams and coaches."

Applications for the 2020 programme are open until October 14th for the consulting stream and October 16th for the assurance, tax and risk assurance streams.


EY employs graduates to any one of its five departments – assurance; tax; transactions; advisory; and IT, data analytics and cyber. The advisory or IT, data analytics and cyber programmes last two years, while the others are three to 3½ years in duration.

EY takes on about 270 graduates each September, across its five offices in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Galway.

Graduates at EY get to work in a hands-on environment in their chosen field, while also receiving coaching and career development support as they pursue their professional qualifications.

Describing the programme as a "career incubator", Jennifer Whitehead, senior recruitment marketing associate at EY, says its graduate programme "offers graduates the opportunity to take their natural talent and develop it naturally through real-world experiences".

Applications for the EY Graduate Programme close in mid-October.

Central Bank

The Central Bank of Ireland Graduate Programme offers graduates a number of rotations across several business areas, affording them the opportunity to develop professionally and broaden their skill-sets across many disciplines over the course of the three-year programme.

Graduates train on the job, and undertake training in central banking and financial regulation. Following a probationary period, graduates are given the opportunity to apply for external learning opportunities that suit their individual development needs and their role within the organisation.

"Our work is challenging, engaging and diverse. Given our wide-ranging mandate, the day-to-day work of the graduates can vary across business areas," says David Walley, media relations at The Central Bank. "At the Central Bank, we don't just accept difference – we seek it and we embrace it because we know that it benefits our people, our organisation and our work."

Note (extended application period): Applications will remain open until 25 October, with successful applicants being called for interview in November and made an offer in December.