If you'd like to work for a business and manage your own projects while earning a competitive graduate salary, consider applying to join the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme

What are Knowledge Transfer Partnerships?

The KTP scheme is one of the UK's largest graduate employment programmes and one of the longest running. It helps UK-based organisations to innovate and grow through a three-way partnership with universities and graduates.

Businesses link up with an academic or research institution, referred to as the 'knowledge base', which then helps by recruiting a suitably qualified graduate, known as a KTP associate.

Employed by the university, the associate then works for the company on strategic projects, helping to improve business performance and increase productivity.

With over 300 job opportunities available every year, the KTP scheme can take from 12 months to three years to complete. Upon completion, many employers offer associates a full-time job, usually in a management role.

The programme is overseen by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) agency Innovate UK, and delivered in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) that supports the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships website.

What work could I do as a KTP associate?

This will depend on your qualifications and the company you work for.

Examples of possible KTP projects include:

  • reorganising production facilities
  • introducing new technologies to an organisation
  • designing new or improved products, processes or services
  • developing new business strategies, increasing productivity and breaking into new markets - particularly when participating in the Management KTP (mKTP).

What sectors can I work in?

KTPs are primarily aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) but companies of all sizes, including not-for-profit organisations (such as charities and social enterprises) in a variety of industries can take part in the programme.

You could look for KTP jobs in the following industries:

What are the benefits of a KTP?

'No other graduate programme delivers such a well-rounded, challenging, yet supported kickstart or re-invigoration of a graduate's career,' says Richard Lamb, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships manager at Innovate UK.

Designed to be mutually beneficial to all involved, KTPs provide associates with:

  • experience of managing a challenging, real-life project of vital importance to a business
  • opportunities to gain professional qualifications
  • a competitive graduate salary, usually up to £32,000.
  • access to top class training and development opportunities
  • the possibility of full-time employment at the end of the project
  • a chance to network and forge industry contacts
  • a platform to launch or advance their career.

On top of these benefits, all associates are given management skills training and also have access to £2,000 per year for specific training relevant to their individual project and personal development goals.

In addition, all associates are supported by nominated academic experts, host company personnel, the regional Knowledge Transfer Advisor (KTA) and usually a university KTP office.

'A KTP can greatly accelerate a graduate's career, particularly if they wish to enter the commercial sector and deliver a challenging high profile project,' says Dave Marshall, innovation funding manager for KTPs at the University of Plymouth.

'Associates are very visible within their host organisation and they effectively become the project manager of a strategically important project for the company. There are also opportunities to register for a higher degree and to progress towards chartered status with relevant professional bodies,' he adds.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the KTP scheme, graduates typically require a 2:1 Bachelors degree in a relevant subject or a Masters or PhD. You'll also need the right to work in the UK.

When applying, be sure to demonstrate the skills and experience required for the job, as specified in the job description or person specification.

'The majority of an associate's time is spent working at company premises, so being a good team worker is imperative. As the associate drives the KTP project forward, confidence, self-motivation, leadership and excellent communication skills are also very important,' says Dave.

Read more about the essential skills that employers want.

How do I apply for a KTP?

You can search for current KTP jobs at Knowledge Transfer Partnerships - Find a job.

KTP vacancies are also listed:

  • in local newspapers
  • through university departments
  • at your local or university careers office.

Academic institutions participating in the scheme usually have a dedicated KTP office and they'll be able to help you find suitable vacancies and provide guidance on making an application.

You apply for KTP roles in the same way you would a regular graduate job, by submitting a CV or by completing an online application form. If successful, you'll then be invited to an interview, which is typically conducted by the university and employer.

'Interview processes vary between universities, employers and the requirements of the post. However, at the University of Plymouth we invite candidates for an informal tour of the premises, followed by a panel interview lasting approximately one hour. This begins with introductions, followed by a ten-minute presentation with five minutes for questions and then a set of standard questions that are asked of each candidate. Finally, the applicant has the opportunity to ask any questions they may have,' explains Dave.

Find out more

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