A placement programme designed to offer 750 Scottish university graduates vital real-life business experience and help ambitious companies achieve crucial growth was launched on 12 October at the Scottish Graduates Fair in Glasgow.
Over the next three years the TalentScotland Graduate Placement Programme will match skilled graduates with growing Scottish businesses to carry out innovative projects the business otherwise would not be able to progress.
Bruno Berardelli, managing director of Highland Wood Energy, a biomass heating specialist based in Torlundy, near Fort William, is one of the business people taking part in the Scotland-wide initiative. He said, "The new graduate placement programme is great news for Scottish businesses. It offers access to Scotland's finest graduates to deliver critical pieces of work that will ultimately improve their profitability and competitiveness."
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Scottish Enterprise (SE), Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Scottish Funding Council (SFC), TalentScotland and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service (AGCAS) have all worked together, supported by the Scottish Government, to design and deliver a programme that will help stimulate business growth while providing valuable work experience for graduates.
This partnership approach offers an enhanced and more impactful programme for more graduates compared to previous placement programmes, and at an overall cost of £1.46 million over three years, including £769,000 from the European Regional Development Fund. In addition, the programme will generate £9.36 million from the private sector, as each student will receive a minimum of £14,000 pro rata for each placement from their host company.
Crawford Gillies, chairman at Scottish Enterprise, who will launch the programme today on behalf of the partners, said, "Public and private sector collaboration has been key to delivering this new, improved graduate placement programme. Through partnership working we have been able to deliver a more efficient and effective programme leading to greater benefits for both graduates and businesses.
"The TalentScotland Graduate Placement Programme is a key tool for businesses to utilise, and our relationship with Scotland's growing companies will help to identify the opportunities they have that will help to grow their business further. Already five graduates have been placed with host companies in the Scottish Enterprise area and a further 10 placements are in progress."
Placements will capitalise on the graduates cultural and learning experiences and cover a wide range of business challenges, for example: designing and developing a new product; adapting products for overseas markets; introducing new processes for the company; undertaking marketing and market research; targeting new international markets; or improving environmental management for business benefit.
The programme is aimed at graduates and post-graduates of Scottish universities, including overseas graduates, to help attract and retain the best talent in Scotland. Each year, around 250 graduates will be supported, including 50 from the Highlands and Islands area, to deliver specific projects crucial to the businesses development and growth plans.
Willy Roe, chair of HIE stated, "The programme will provide a way for hundreds of businesses and social enterprises to think innovatively while giving talented graduates vital experience in a full-time job.
"We want more young people to see the range of opportunities that exist in the region and to stay here or return after they have finished their study to work, To date five graduates have started their placements in the Highlands and Islands with a further 20 graduate placements in progress"
Placements will vary in length - between three and 12 months depending on the project - and each graduate will receive dedicated, residential entrepreneurship training funded by the SFC and delivered by Robert Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde. The training will be delivered during placements to better equip graduates for their work experience, as well as improve their employability, innovation and leadership skills to drive business growth.
Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, said, "We are delighted to see the launch of this exciting new placement programme for graduates.
"This programme forms part of the hard work we have been carrying out through our Step Forward Scotland campaign which is helping young people and school leavers secure a place in learning or training.
"These placements will offer new graduates real opportunities to enhance their employability prospects and provide them with the necessary work-place experience to help them find long-term sustainable employment."
Mark Batho, chief executive of Scottish Funding Council commented, "The Talent Scotland Programme complements the work we are doing on graduate employability and we welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise on this new internship scheme.
"Our university graduates have much to offer and programmes like TalentScotland benefit both the employer and graduate. Those who go through the programme will bring fresh ideas and perspective to their internship and in turn gain an understanding of the cut and thrust of how businesses operate and the contribution they make to our economy. This experience gives graduates an invaluable opportunity to develop the skills needed to increase their future employment opportunities."
The TalentScotland website acts as the single point of contact for companies and graduates, which links directly to the AGCAS 'shared vacancy' database of all Scottish universities, where all placement vacancies are posted, as well as access to other TalentScotland services.
Graduates can search, view and apply for placements through the AGCAS website, following which the project officer, funded by a partnership of Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, will review the applications and forward selected details to the company to arrange interviews.
The project officer will be managed by AGCAS and work with university careers services to market the programme to graduates who would gain from it and add value to the companies offering placements.
Scottish Enterprise and HIE are working closely with growing companies and social enterprises to help them identify suitable opportunities for a graduate placement, and encourage them to post these onto the AGCAS shared vacancy database.