The first residential training course for the TalentScotland Graduate Placement Programme in the Highlands and Islands took place from 6-10 December. The twelve graduates who battled the snow to attend the tailored business skills course are employed to work on projects by organisations across the area.
The programme in the Highlands and Islands is managed by HIE with Scottish Enterprise (SE) managing the programme for the rest of Scotland.
The graduates will be working on projects to help their business innovate or develop new products and processes. The programme also helps graduates gain vital work experience after completing their studies.
James Williamson, an engineering graduate at BSW Timber remarked: "I spent four years learning from books, but the real learning starts in the workplace."
The course at Fairburn Activity Centre near Inverness was delivered by Aberdeen Business School at Robert Gordon University and The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University. All aspects of business development were covered in a practical and hands on way. The course finished with graduates presenting on how they will apply their new knowledge when taking their projects forward.
Chris Putt at Highland Activities in Kinlochlaggan, said "I have learned how to present the knowledge I have in my head using the tools and techniques we have discussed during this week. I can now use these to present and discuss ideas and actions with my boss and others."
The graduates also had an opportunity to make new contacts and friends.
Harriet Sutton, an English graduate working at Skyeskyns in Waternish, commented, "This was a great opportunity to meet other graduates who are on placements at the moment and maybe even work on similar projects."
The graduates who benefited from the training course work in businesses and social enterprises in Shetland, Fort William, Oban, Skye, Torridon, Dingwall, Forres, Boat of Garten and Kinlochlaggan.
Funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has made the development and delivery of this tailored course possible. Up to 600 graduates in Scotland will benefit from this course between 2010 and 2013.
The TalentScotland Graduate Placement Programme is a partnership project comprising HIE, SE, SFC, SDS and Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service. In the Highlands and Islands the TalentScotland programme is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Ruth Sime, Senior Development Manager at HIE said: "We hope that this course will help the graduates to deliver a really good project for their employer and enhance their own employability skills."
Monday night saw David Fraser, deputy chairman of Fusion, deliver an inspirational after dinner speech to the graduates, sharing his experiences as a business leader.
The TalentScotland Graduate Placement Programme was launched on 12 October 2010 by the Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning. So far 20 graduates have started their placements across Scotland in businesses in the private and social enterprises sectors in Scotland. Many more vacancies will be advertised after the New Year.