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Shetland businesses welcome graduates

Published: 26/04/2022

Eight graduates have been recruited at businesses and social enterprises across Shetland through a programme funded and delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Solene Giraudeau-Potel

The Graduate Support Programme helps companies in the Highlands and Islands by offering 12-month, well-paid work experience placements in key sectors that span a wide variety of industries.

It supports organisations to drive innovation and recovery and provides graduates with much-needed experience to advance their careers.

With the help of the programme, Martin Turner joined Laurence Odie Knitwear in Hoswick as the digital marketing and branding graduate.

The company operates the Shetland Woollen Co. brand and is primarily focused on the manufacture and wholesale of high-quality garments. The decision to employ a graduate started when the firm was awarded a Digital Enablement Grant from HIE to help build a new website. They soon realised that somebody would need to join the team to drive the brand forward and lead on social media and online marketing.

Martin grew up in Orkney before moving away to study fashion and design at the Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels. After moving to Shetland with his partner in 2019, he struggled to find a role which would allow him to use his fashion qualifications.

The opportunity came at the right time according to Martin. He said:

“The advert for the role mentioned the chance to expand on the skills you could bring to the role to develop new opportunities. That really appealed to me as I saw how I would bring design skills in addition to my digital marketing and branding experience. I had graduated around two years before and felt like the longer it took to find work in my field, the less likely I was to find something. I knew that because it was a graduate role, I’d be supported and would get valuable experience to help me make a start in my career.”

In Lerwick, Solene Giraudeau-Potel was recruited as woodlands development co-ordinator for the Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT), which has a mission to protect, enhance and promote Shetland’s cultural and natural heritage for visitors and local people.

With the rising importance of reaching net zero carbon, the organisation grasped the opportunity to expand its woodland operations and increase its team capacity by taking on a graduate.

Growing up in the French countryside, Solene dreamed of living by the sea and was happy to have found herself at home in the Highlands and Islands.

She moved to Aberdeen to study in English before transferring to SAMS in Oban for a BA and MA in marine science, then moving to Shetland when she and her partner found work locally prior to her placement.

Although her role in woodland development is different to those covered in her marine science education, Solene views the role as a valuable entry point into her specialism of choice: conservation.

She said:

“I’ve learned lots of new tools, like project management, and also found out what it’s like to work in conservation and in a not-for-profit environment, which was all new for me. Because this was a new job, I’ve also been able to be flexible and develop different parts of the job, which I’ve really enjoyed.”

Although Solene was already living in Shetland, she feels the programme would be a perfect opportunity for a recent graduate to test out moving to the Highlands and Islands for a fixed period of time without necessarily committing to a permanent move.

Shaun Cameron from Aberdeen is currently at a fourth-year student at the University of Aberdeen.

He successfully applied to join the team in a graduate marketing and digitisation role at Lerwick Fabrication and Engineers Ltd (LEF).  

Shaun said: “Since arriving in November, the team have made me feel very welcome and I’ve settled in well. My role has allowed me to gain a valuable insight into the engineering and fabrication industry and has even taken me to various locations, each demonstrating a different aspect to the project range delivered by LEF.

“Since I started at the company, I’ve made key contributions such as implementing an increased presence on a range of social media platforms, as well as improving the communication capacity of LEF with stakeholders and customers. I have also been presented with further opportunity to accelerate my career within the business team at LEF, an opportunity which I am very excited about.”

Katrina Wiseman, area manager at HIE, said:

“My first role after leaving university was a HIE supported graduate placement, so I really appreciate and understand the value of these opportunities for graduates, and also how it brings young people back to live and work in the islands. It is fantastic that so many of our businesses and social enterprises have taken up the opportunity to recruit into exciting roles benefiting both the businesses and organisations, as well as the graduates themselves and creating skilled employment across Shetland.

“The programme is an excellent initiative, which offers generous financial support, enabling employers to bring in enthusiastic and skilled graduates keen to implement their learning in the workplace.”

Other businesses that have recruited graduates through the programme in Shetland are Malakoff Limited, Volar Energy Ltd, Ocean Kinetics Ltd and Shetland Space Centre Ltd (2). 

Group pic - l-r Sean, Solene, Martin. 

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