Students from the Outer Hebrides taking part in this year's summer STEP programme have discovered who the Most Enterprising Student is at an event in Lews Castle College UHI on Tuesday (August 31).
The event concludes the STEP Summer Placement Programme which has seen 44 university students gain industry experience with businesses and organisations across the Highlands and Islands.
The winning student for the Outer Hebrides was Anne Dickie who took up a placement with Equateq Ltd - a family owned production and research facility able to make super-pure fatty acid concentrates for the nutrition industry. She is currently studying a BSc (Hons) in Biological Science. Runner-up in the final was Ruth Macdonald who spent her placement with the Harris Tweed Authority. Ruth is currently studying a BA (Hons) in Fashion Marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University.
The students taking part showcased their projects and delivered short presentations on how their placements have benefited the businesses they have been working with. Regional finals were also held in Inverness and Lerwick.
For all Highlands and Islands based placements HIE provided 50 per cent of the students' allowance through strategic assistance by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The scheme aims to match undergraduates with the related businesses for an eight-week paid work placement over the summer holidays. The businesses benefit from an additional member of staff who carries out a specific project, while the students gain invaluable industry experience related to their studies.
The STEP programme has been running in the Outer Hebrides for 16 years. Donnie Smith is the STEP agent based in Lews Castle College UHI in the Outer Hebrides. He said: "All the reports and presentations were of a high standard and both the students and the companies felt it had been a highly successful programme and would recommend it to future students and organisations."
HIE senior development manager Ruth Sime said: "The STEP programme is a very popular scheme that provides benefits for both students and employers. The relevant work experience gained by the students sets them apart from others when applying for jobs, particularly just now when graduate opportunities are limited. The employers are able to take on committed project staff at a subsidised rate during the holiday period. Some employers are able to offer a permanent job to their placement students when they have graduated and this helps to retain skilled young people in the region."