If you'd like to work for a local company and manage your own projects while earning a competitive graduate salary, consider a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Find out more about the scheme and how to apply

What are Knowledge Transfer Partnerships?

The KTP scheme is one of the UKs largest graduate employment programmes and one of the longest running. It helps business to innovate and grow by providing three-way collaboration between universities, organisations and graduates.

Businesses link up with an academic or research institution, which then help to recruit 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.

As a KTP associate, the type of work you carry out depends on your qualifications and the company that you work for, but as an example, KTP projects could include:

  • reorganising production facilities
  • introducing new technologies to an organisation
  • designing new or improved products, processes or services
  • developing new business strategies and breaking into new markets.

With over 300 job opportunities available every year, the scheme can take from 12 months to three years to complete. Upon completion, around 70% of employers offer associates a full-time job, usually in a management role.

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

What sectors can I work in?

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

You could work in the following industries:

What are the benefits of a KTP?

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 in the region of £25,000 to £35,000.
  • access to top class training and development opportunities
  • the possibility of full-time employment at the end of the project
  • a platform to launch or advance their career.

On top of these benefits, associates have access to a budget of £2,000 per year for training, £2,250 for travel and a further £1,500 for necessary equipment.

'A KTP can greatly accelerate a graduate's career, particularly if they wish to enter the commercial sector,' says Dave Marshall, specialist KTP advisor 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.'

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the KTP scheme graduates need 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.

You'll also need to make sure that you can 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 skills that employers want.

How do I apply for a KTP?

You can search for KTP jobs:

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

To find vacancies online head to Innovate UK. Here you'll be able to register you interest in the programme, create a profile so recruiters can find you and search current vacancies.

Academic institutions who participate in the scheme usually have a dedicated KTP office and they'll be able to help you find suitable vacancies and may also be able to help with your 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