Manchester hosting specialist UKFast made a £1m pledge to help new recruits pay off student debt, as they struggle with the spiralling cost of further education.
CEO Lawrence Jones has launched GradCash, which will offer graduates the opportunity to have £2,000 paid off their loan in the first two years of employment.
This year, the company doubled its commitment to recruit 50 graduates, increasing it to 100 to keep up with UKFast’s growth.
Jones said: “It’s an initiative designed to help soften the burden graduates are lumbered with when entering the outside world.
“The current trajectory we are on requires us to expand the workforce significantly and we are hugely impressed with the quality of candidates applying since launching the scheme last week.
“After hearing every single student cite their debt as their biggest concern, we decided to do something about it.”
He added: “As part of our commitment to demonstrate our long-term belief in the graduates we want to team up with, Gail and I created a £1 million fund to pay towards the rising debts that students leave university with.
“We’re focussed on creating the leaders of the future by investing in their continuous development and this is just a small part of that.
“It’s our way of demonstrating that we believe in them as much as they believe in us when they choose to work at UKFast.
“These graduates are the first to be hit with tripled fees. In a world where I believe we should not have to pay for education, it’s up to anyone who can make a difference to do just that.
“We are in a fortunate position and as business leaders it makes perfect sense to invest in the next generation, both financially and with continuous training.
“These graduates will go on to make UKFast successful for generations to come.
“It’s hard for graduates to find jobs and to get on the property ladder, so we are putting £2,000 directly towards their debt on top of their salaries and all the usual benefits of being on the UKFast team.”
Jones is announcing the fund as part of an ambitious plan to further scale UKFast by taking on 500 graduates over the next five years.
UKFast’s workforce has tripled since moving to its Campus three years ago, with the firm now employing 350 people.
He said: “Manchester is a truly unique city. Working with leaders like Sir Richard Leese and Joanne Roney and witnessing Andy Burnham’s passion first hand gives me the confidence to continue to expand in Manchester.
“It’s fantastic to be able to make a difference and demonstrate our commitment to the Greater Manchester community but most of all it underlines our commitment to education in the region and the young people choosing to make Manchester their home, just like I did when I arrived here 30 years ago.”
UKFast Campus is located on the edge of Manchester Science Park. Perks at the cutting-edge workplace include a gym, steam room, crèche and bar. Jones also owns a hotel in the Swiss resort of Verbier where UKFast staff enjoy trips.