An expert has advised students preparing to make their entry into the competitive British jobs market that embarking on an internship or other work experience scheme could lend a crucial advantage.

Graduate Recruitment Bureau co-founder Dan Hawes noted that around 70 to 80 per cent of so-called “blue-chip” companies offer some form of placement and observed that both businesses and individual participants can benefit.

“There are so many good-quality graduates entering the market and with fewer jobs competition gets higher, so you’ve got to look at ways of standing out,” he said. “An internship is one way, sure – but there are other ways, too.”

Mr Hawes added that taking a gap year can be seen as a bonus by some employers – depending on how it has been spent – and urged students not to “stand on the sidelines” during their time in higher education.

Bosses looking for practical tips on how to locate and nurture top young talent should consider attending the Graduate Recruitment and Development Forum 2011, scheduled to take place on February 1st at London’s Canary Wharf.