Making graduate recruitment easy

The RISE initiative helps SMEs in the Sheffield City Region to recruit graduates, with more than 500 successful appointments in the past seven years. unLTD’s Chris Coates spoke to SME engagement manager Oliver Tarrant about the work they do

RISE is an innovative business support initiative that connects small and medium sized businesses across the Sheffield City Region with talented, hard-working graduates. RISE is proud of the fact it doesn’t just introduce SMEs to graduates – it supports them to ensure they recruit the right person to help their business grow.

Although the jobs market has been hit hard by the pandemic, RISE has been able to continue by moving its support online. Applicants are matched to the SME’s needs and put forward for interview. Once a suitable appointment has been selected, the RISE team will continue to offer support to the graduate and employer through monitoring progress and holding three- and six-month review meetings.

Oliver Tarrant, SME engagement manager at RISE, said: “We aren’t a graduate recruitment agency – our support goes much further than that. We find as much information as we can about the business so we can identify graduates who would be suited to working for them. We want to help SMEs see the benefits of recruiting graduates in the future, so we offer a wrap-around service to help employers on how to recruit, train and retain graduates beyond our initial support. Our track record shows that the process works and that graduates have so much to offer SMEs in the Sheffield City Region.”

RISE is delivered in partnership by Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield City Council, and is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.


Online retailer Xbite operates from Barlborough in Derbyshire and has evolved from a niche re-seller of used games and gaming equipment to a global e-commerce business.

Xbite trained up more than 20 apprentices in 2019 and since June 2020 they have recruited five graduates through the RISE initiative.

Rikki Stout, head of HR at Xbite, said: “RISE has matched us with excellent people straight from university, meaning we can nurture and develop them early on.

“Graduates will need time to learn your specific systems, tech and culture, but that is the same with any new appointment. There are some major benefits to businesses that connect with people in this way and help to develop their skills at the very start of their career.”


Rotherham-based S3 ID design, manufacture and supply niche safety, security and productivity systems used in hazardous areas such as offshore and onshore oil and gas vessels. The majority of S3 ID’s 25-strong team work in technical roles which are hard to fill.

In February 2020 University of Sheffield graduate Adam Wilson was matched with S3 ID through RISE. Adam is now working directly with the product engineers on the workshop floor and represented S3 ID to approve the operation of a new personnel tracking system for an offshore vessel in Norway.

Elaine Errington, HR and finance director at S3 ID, said: “The UK engineering sector is suffering from a nationwide skills shortage – for these highly technical roles you can’t just pull in an engineer off the street.

“RISE is helping us to identify those all-important transferable skills and we will invest the time to train the very best graduates in our specialist technology. Our business plan is to bring people in early and give them the experience they need to build engineers of the future.”