Northern Innovation Hub
Meeting the needs of local businesses.
Find out how Pat Munro (Alness) Ltd was able to benefit from our Technology Placement Programme.
Pat Munro Ltd is an Alness-based multi-discipline contractor with interests in construction, haulage, plant hire, quarry products and waste services. A family business, Pat Munro was founded in 1945 and has grown to employ over 170 employees. The company has remained competitive and agile over the years thanks to ongoing investment in technology and its highly-trained workforce: products are tailored to meet precise customer requirements and Pat Munro sets the highest standards of customer service.
In 2020, Pat Munro’s commercial director, Mark Bramley, identified several IT projects that would introduce digitised processes and reduce administration time across all departments. The company’s existing IT team was already stretched, so Mark applied to hire a graduate via our Technology Placement Programme. This resulted in University of the Highlands and Islands Computing Science graduate, Michael Graves, joining Pat Munro as a Graduate System Analyst on a 12-month contract. Michael has now joined the business on a permanent basis.
The Technology Placement allowed us an element of ‘try before you buy’ in terms of IT improvements, which, had it not been for the grant, we may not have been able to trial.Mark Bramley, Commercial Director, Pat Munro
During his placement, Michael was assigned a number of tasks which included introducing simplified accounting processes and automated procedures, improving online systems and reducing data entry requirements.
“It worked well when we previously took on a graduate through ScotGrad says Mark. “So, when we had a variety of IT improvements planned at the company we decided to apply to the Technology Placement Programme.”
Michael’s work streamlining accounting administration led to a 10% reduction in processing speeds, while his creation of customer portals increased the online provision of information to customers, sub-contractors and other partners. Furthermore, digital dashboards introduced by Michael during his placement enhanced information flow to management, helping increase the company’s focus on its KPIs.
“Having Michael on board allowed us to complete a number of the primary objectives, providing efficiencies in how we undertake a variety of activities,” says Mark. “The Technology Placement allowed us an element of ‘try before you buy’ in terms of IT improvements, which, had it not been for the grant, we may not have been able to trial.”
So many jobs I looked at required experience which I didn’t have. But this placement allowed me to find somewhere I could gain experience in the area I want to work in.Michael Graves, Graduate Systems Analyst, Pat Munro
Michael’s placement with Pat Munro was undoubtedly mutually beneficial. “My experience was great, I really enjoyed the job,” says Michael. “The best thing about taking part was that I was able to jump straight into a job after university and get working on challenging and interesting tasks which used my knowledge from my degree. This placement made me aware that I don’t need to work in a computing or programming centric company to achieve my career goals.”
As the year-long placement drew to a close in 2021, Pat Munro offered Michael the opportunity to join the team on a permanent basis, which he was delighted to accept. Michael credits the placement with giving him the chance to gain real-life experience working in his degree field, increasing his employability.
“I would definitely recommend this to anybody who is leaving university,” enthuses Michael. “So many jobs I looked at required experience which I didn’t have. But this placement allowed me to find somewhere I could gain experience in the area I want to work in.”
Mark Bramley is also a firm advocate of the scheme - which companies are eligible to participate in twice – and he says it’s something Pat Munro would definitely consider again.
“We wouldn’t hesitate to engage with it again,” says Mark. “We gained as a company from having an additional qualified person working for us in-house. Michael proved his worth and it’s brilliant to have him onboard as a permanent member of the team now. The programme took the risk out of trialling something that we thought the business needed, and it’s really paid off.”
To find out more, visit the Technology Placements webpage.
The Technology Placement Programme is delivered by the Northern Innovation Hub. This 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 University of the Highlands and Islands. This programme also receives financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Innovation strategic intervention.
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