The award winning ScotGrad Graduate Placement Programme has reached a milestone in the Highlands and Islands by delivering its 200th graduate placement.
ScotGrad is funded and delivered in the region by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the European regional Development fund (ERDF).
Michael Westcott graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Media from Edinburgh Napier. He has now started a 12 month placement with Oban-based social enterprise and registered charity Stramash.
Stramash delivers high quality outdoor learning, outdoor activities, expeditions and outdoor sports development for a wide range of people including; early years, schools, young people, teachers, groups and individuals. Being a social enterprise means that Stramash invests its resources back into communities and individuals it serves, to make a lasting positive impact.
“Ever since graduating from university I have always wanted to be an outdoor cameraman and a ScotGrad undergraduate summer placement last year gave me crucial experience in developing not only my photography techniques but my awareness in filming in harsh outdoor environments.”
The experience of working in an outdoor adventure company through the summer placement helped Michael secure this post.
“I was very attracted to Stramash’s aims; how they use the outdoors to help educate and develop individuals and promote environmental awareness. I welcome the challenge of creating unique videos that will capture the story of the work of Stramash and help show people the outcomes of the great work the company is doing.
“I am looking forward to creating films among the stunning surroundings of the west of Scotland around Oban and Fort William. The placement will not only develop my filming skills but also teach me about working in a busy third sector organisation that is growing and expanding rapidly. It's going to be a great year.”
Niall Urquhart, CEO at Stramash is delighted to have a graduate join the team: He said: “This is the second time we have been involved with ScotGrad. It is a very valuable programme, both for the recent graduates who can develop and hone their skills in the work place, and also for the employers.
“We benefited greatly from our first Scotgrad placement and are now delighted to have Michael on-board as our second. Even in the few weeks that he has already been with us, he has produced an excellent film giving an insight into our work. The ScotGrad staff are always helpful and provide the necessary support to both the graduate and the employer.
“It is a great programme and I would thoroughly recommend it to any employer looking to develop a particular area of their business or organisation.”
Michael will be on a year-long contract with the Oban-based social enterprise and will create a series of films about Stramash and its work that will be used to communicate the different services that the organization offers.
The films Michael produces will be used for marketing, publicity and general awareness raising but he will also leave a long term legacy, by training existing staff on basic skills in filmmaking. As a result of the project, Stramash expects to see a significant increase in traded income.
Michael is looking forward to attending the four day residential course offered as part of the ScotGrad programme.
This course prepares the graduates to be more effective in their placement and any future roles by improving project management, presentation and influencing skills and giving insight into “business basics”. It also provides a great opportunity for graduates to network and support each other. The course is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and delivered by the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, and the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde.
Winner of the Association of Graduate Recruiters “Work Experience Programme” Award 2014, ScotGrad has placed over 750 graduates in over 570 SMEs across Scotland since 2010. Over 92% of Associates are in graduate-level employment post-placement – showcasing the benefit this programme has on increasing employability – and over 70% are offered a permanent position in the same company, showing business growth. Employers also report increased turn-over as a result of the placement projects, in areas such as innovation, internationalisation and business efficiency.
Andrea McColl, Head of Graduate Placements at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: "The ScotGrad programme brings fresh thinking and new talent to hundreds of businesses and social enterprises across Scotland while giving talented graduates vital experience in a full-time job. We want more graduates to see the range of job opportunities that exist in the region and base themselves here after they have completed their studies.
"University graduates have a lot of skills and knowledge to offer and programmes like this benefit both the employer and graduate. This experience gives graduates an invaluable opportunity to develop the skills needed to increase their future employment opportunities, and in many cases secure extended or permanent employment with the host employer.
“All kinds of businesses have benefited, including tourism organisations, arts companies, food and drink businesses, charities, social enterprises, engineering companies, port authorities and games development companies. They are based across the Highlands and Islands, from Shetland to Argyll and Moray to the Outer Hebrides.”