It’s been a tough time for our young people leaving school, college and uni. Lockdowns, online learning, furlough, and an uncertain job market have all added to the challenges for those hoping to kick-start a career.

Given the circumstances, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from businesses and community enterprises, and from young people, for our graduate programmes.   

Right now, we have more than 90 graduate placements supporting recovery in businesses and organisations across the patch. The majority have been in post since October last year and the breadth of work being carried out is inspiring. Gone are the days of a graduate being plonked in a corner with the filing to do.

In Shetland, 100% employee-owned knitwear company Laurence Odie is working with an Orkney born textiles and design graduate on e-commerce and net zero. On the west coast, Zoology graduate Hannah Stanger has brought her wildlife experience to Islay Sea Adventures. Peatland restoration and rural environment experts Angus Davidson Ltd’s first graduate from 2015 is now the business’s Environmental Lead, and they’ve recruited three more placements over the years since then.

The Black Bay recording studio in the Isle of Lewis has given a sound engineer grad from Lanark the opportunity to do what he loves full-time. In Caithness and Sutherland North Point Distillery recruited the key position of Project Distiller to support their development. Community organisations Shetland Amenity Trust and Tiree Community Development Trust have been able to deliver conservation and sustainable island tourism projects respectively.

These supported placements are a win-win for everyone. Our 50% funding for the employee’s salary helps de-risk the appointment. The graduate gets real-workplace experience, with salaries and conditions in line with our fair work ethic. 

Supporting young people to choose the Highlands and Islands as a place to build a life, has always been an important aspect of our work. We have supported hundreds of placements in the region through the previous ScotGrad programme. The financial support provided through our Graduate Support Programme was designed to give post-lockdown businesses the confidence to take on someone with new skills to support their recovery.

There are still opportunities available.

Applications to our Technology Placement Programme (TPP) are open for enterprises in the Highland Council area who would like a student (around 12 weeks) or graduate placement (up to one year). It’s available to small to medium size businesses (SMEs) and social enterprises across all sectors – including businesses who perhaps haven’t worked with us before, such as offices, accountants etc. You don’t need to be an existing HIE client.

The post should involve some aspect of digital/technology. This can be as simple as getting your paper processes onto computer or the web, or a more complicated project improving efficiency or processes through tech. If you’ve got an idea get in touch as we can help you work up your project.

The TPP is part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal - a joint initiative supported by £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Our Graduate Placement Programme 2022 is a one-year interim programme – with a limited number of placements at SMEs including social enterprises in each of our local authority areas. Graduates who’ve completed HNC/D, degree level and above in the past four years can watch out for vacancies coming up soon. We’ll promote them on social media.

At HIE, we understand the value of developing skills locally. This year we’ve created 13 Modern Apprentice and graduate posts offering great career opportunities in key project areas including: net zero transition, space, Gaelic, business and community development. We’ve also offered vital support posts, where applicants can develop highly sought-after professional skills - procurement, economic analysis and legal compliance.

Do have a read at our business’s placement stories above if you get a chance. Seeing what is happening on the ground really highlights what fantastic opportunities we have in our region for our young people.

Choose the Highlands and Islands


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