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Highlands and Islands businesses celebrate summer talent

30 August 2013

Twenty-one ambitious students who have been bringing fresh knowledge and ideas to companies across the Highlands and Islands gathered in Inverness today (Friday 30th August) to present their summer placement project findings to a panel of business experts in a dragons' den style competition.

The winner of finals day was Robert Anderson, of Shetland who is studying at Glasgow University. He has been placed with NB Communication Ltd in Shetland.  As well as securing the judges vote he also won ‘people’s choice award’ from the audience, which included businesses and fellow students.

The students, who have come from across Scotland to work for up to 12 weeks over the summer with local businesses and social enterprises, are part of the ScotGrad Summer Placement Programme managed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The programme was formerly known as the TalentScotland Summer Placement Programme.

Today’s event at Cowan House in Inverness celebrated this year's programme which has seen 32 university students gain valuable work experience with a wide range of organisations across the Highlands and Islands from Shetland to Lochgilphead.

Ruth Sime, Head of Business Programmes at HIE said: "The quality of this year’s student work has been excellent and the judges were impressed by all of the presentations. The programme provides enormous value for both students and employers. The work experience gained by the students sets them apart from others when applying for jobs, particularly when graduate opportunities are limited. The employers are able to take on committed and enthusiastic project staff at a subsidised rate during the holiday period.”

“Some employers may offer a longer term employment opportunity to their placement student in the future and this helps to retain skilled young people in the region.  We hope that many of the undergraduates will look to the ScotGrad Graduate Placement Programme for longer placements when they graduate."

The students showcased their projects and delivered short presentations on how their work has benefited the business they have been working with, as well as the skills that they have gained throughout the placement. Robert has developed an information system to improve the internal processes of the company.

After the presentation Robert said: “The work I was doing was important to the company – there was real demand for the new information system.  NB Communication is a small ambitious firm and my placement offered them the opportunity to achieve this project. The programme is an excellent way of linking the talent of students and companies. I was determined to do a good job for them and I’m delighted to have won after putting so many hours into the job.”

David Nicol, Managing Director, NB Communication said: “I am delighted with everything Robert has done.  I had no idea he would be able to do so much in such a short space of time.  We are thrilled with what he has been able to achieve in 12 weeks.  We would never have had him if it wasn’t for the scheme.”

Nicola MacKinnon, who is a student from Strathclyde University, was one of the runner-ups in the competition. She has been working with the social enterprise Oban Phoenix Cinema. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my placement and feel I have made a real impact.  I was particularly pleased at the level of responsibility I was entrusted with. The business is already starting to see the benefits of the loyalty card system introduced. I would encourage any student to consider taking part in the programme – young people can really make a big impact on businesses in Scotland.”

Eleanor Mackinnon, Duty Manager at Oban Phoenix Cinema said: “Nicola has worked so hard during her placement with us and we have found her invaluable.  Her Gaelic language skills have also come in very useful. I am delighted that she has been awarded a runner up in the finals day presentations.”

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