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The Aldi graduate scheme is better than Google’s, according to the UK’s graduates.

The discount retailer has risen to number two in the prestigious Times Top 100 list of graduate employers, compiled using feedback from over 18,000 graduates. Google jumped from ninth place last year to third this year, but the tech giant was still beaten by the cut-price supermarket.

Since the league table was first published in 1999, no retailer has been ranked in the top two until this year. The news follows Lidl’s pledge to pay the Living Wage from October 2015, and Ikea’s promise to pay it from April 2016, suggesting the retail industry is finally tackling its reputation for being made up of low-paying, high-turnover employers that struggle to retain their staff long-term.

Aldi has been recognised for its highly regarded Area Management Programme, which offers successful candidates a starting salary of £42,000 (that’s well above the average graduate salary).

The Times Top 10 Graduate Employers  (Source: The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers)

The Times Top 10 Graduate Employers (Source: The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers)

During the programme, graduates are given significant levels of responsibility and autonomy, and the opportunity to progress within the UK’s fastest growing retailer.

After a year’s comprehensive training, Aldi’s graduate Area Managers are expected to oversee and manage a portfolio of three to five stores, and provide direction and leadership to their store management teams.

Mary Dunn, Communications Director at Aldi, said the store relied on a strong pipeline of graduates to keep up with success the German store is having in the UK, and that successful candidates would be likely to stay with Aldi for many years to come:

“As a result of Aldi’s strong growth, it is imperative that we recruit high calibre graduates across the UK to oversee our store portfolio, and we will be recruiting 150 graduates during the upcoming academic year. Area Managers are fundamental to our business and we invest significantly in our training programmes so graduates enjoy a successful and rewarding career.

“The Area Management Programme is challenging and diverse, but offers significant opportunities for career progression — with the majority of current Aldi directors having joined the business as graduates.”

Graduate Fog wonders whether this shock result may indicate graduates being increasingly discerning about who they work for – and being able to differentiate between ‘cool’ brands and good employers. Our sources tell us that ‘several thousand’ people apply for Aldi’s graduate scheme, so the message is clearly getting through.

Full details of the Aldi Area Management Programme can be viewed at

What factors do you consider when deciding which graduate schemes to apply for? How important is it to work for a ‘cool’ company? And if you don’t apply for the big graduate schemes, what puts you off them?

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