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Orkney businesses welcome graduates to new roles

Published: 01/02/2022

Seven graduates have been recruited at businesses in Orkney through a programme funded and delivered by HIE.

Clockwise from top left Robbie, Georgie, Emmy, Muhammed, James, Jack, Kieran (middle)

The Graduate Support Programme helps companies in the region 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, Muhammad Umair joined Ortak Jewellery in Kirkwall after graduating the University of Stirling. In his marketing role, he focuses on growing the company’s online business profile. Muhammad says that moving to Orkney was one of his best decisions after living in cities for most of his life. He’s looking forward to growing his technical skills while looking into industry-standard market practices with product development as his career goal.

Jack Whitwell, originally from the Wirral, Merseyside was recruited as a project officer by The Pier Arts Centre. The organisation is in the process of establishing a new Orkney Arts Residency at Linkshouse, their recently acquired property in Birsay. Jack is helping to launch the project, which will enable the Pier Arts Centre to expand its operations, developing new creative activity to generate additional revenue. Jack moved to Orkney five years ago after graduating from Fine Art at Newcastle University.

Westray Development Trust welcomed Kieran Fowler to the team. He has been busy developing the Westray Community Garden. Originally from Aberdeenshire, he spent six years in Glasgow where he graduated from Strathclyde University. More recently, he studied at Scotland’s Rural College and the University of Edinburgh, working in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. Growing up, Kieran was always interested in farming and his summers were often spent working on sheep and strawberry farms.

In the island of Lamb Holm, three aquaculture graduates have been employed by Orkney Shellfish Hatchery and Ocean on Land to continue their research and commercial work with on-land culture of premium native flat oyster spat and European clawed lobster. The positions offer those who have studied in the field the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in a hatchery facility.

Emmy Couper-Young from Edinburgh and James Weatherley from Kent have both moved to Orkney to join the team at the hatchery. Emma studied at Herriot Watt University and Edinburgh Napier gaining an MSc in marine biodiversity and technology and a BSc in marine and freshwater biology and James gained an MRes in marine science from University of Plymouth and a BSc in marine and freshwater biology from Aberystwyth.

Robbie Cant from Kirkwall also joined the hatcheries and he has a BSc in marine and freshwater biology at Glasgow University. His thesis looking at the New Zealand brittle star led to him spending time there before returning home.

All three graduates are excited about taking their first steps into the hatchery world alongside a team of experienced and highly knowledgeable aquaculture professionals.

Georgie McKechnie, from Loch Lomond studied International Marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University. She accepted the position of marketing and business development graduate at Deerness Distillery. Georgie relocated to Orkney in 2021 and is embracing her new position streamlining and restructuring the marketing and business development of the business for a successful growth strategy from 2022 onwards. She says that having so much responsibility and input into all aspects of the business is an amazing experience and the award-winning spirits produced at Deerness Distillery not only taste good but are fun to market to consumers.

Graeme Harrison, area manager at HIE’s Orkney area team, said: “We are delighted that so many of our businesses and social enterprises took up the opportunity to recruit graduates into posts that benefit both the businesses and the graduates themselves, creating skilled employment across the islands. 

“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. It is encouraging to see these graduates who are keen to be part of our community use their learning and grow their skills in developing specific projects that will help our community to thrive.”

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