Plan to provide opportunities for West Midlands graduates launched

26th June 2009

Graduates struggling to find work in the West Midlands this summer will be offered subsidised jobs, training places and low-cost university courses under plans being launched today (Friday 26 June) by Regional Minister Ian Austin at Aston University.

Universities, business groups, Jobcentre Plus and Advantage West Midlands have drawn up the programme – the first of its kind in the country – to help students from the West Midlands start their careers and businesses to benefit from graduate-level skills despite the recession. 

The region’s businesses will be encouraged to identify work placements and job opportunities for graduates.  SMEs in particular can benefit from graduate input to make them stronger in the downturn and better placed to meet the upturn when it comes.

The plan consists of:

  • Training places funded through the European Social Fund.  Graduates will be offered 30 hours a week work placements and still be able to receive Jobseekers Allowance.

  • Universities offering post-graduate courses at reduced costs so that students can continue their studies and increase their skills so they can get better jobs after the recession.

  • Internships and work placements lasting for up to six months in which students will be able to continue claiming benefits and get extra help to cover transport and other costs.

Ian Austin said:  “I want to help both the graduate class of 2009 and businesses throughout the Region to boost our economy and create more jobs.

“It’s another example of the government providing real help now to get the West Midlands through the recession.

“We need to help new and smaller businesses that have not traditionally employed graduates to take them on – not just to provide valuable work experience for the graduates, but to help businesses to withstand the recession and prepare for the upturn.”

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands said:  "The West Midlands needs more graduates working in graduate level jobs in order to raise competitiveness and increase the output of the region. This has never been more true, as we fight together to get through the recession.”

Professor Christine King, Chair of the West Midlands Higher Education Association said:  “Graduates are one of the Region's best assets.  Matching their skills and talents to the needs of business through the Internship Programme will give individuals and employers throughout the West Midlands real added advantage.”

Margaret Tovey, Director of Jobcentre Plus, West Midlands said:  “In recognition of the difficulties that young people are facing in the current economic climate, Jobcentre Plus is keen to explore how we can assist and this internship programme gives graduates a perfect opportunity to build on their academic achievements in the workplace.”

John Rider, of the Institute of Directors said:  "The West Midlands Graduate Internship scheme has moved from concept to launch in a matter of weeks and around 20 separate organisations have worked collaboratively and very effectively to make it happen.  We have developed a scheme that we believe is 'win - win'. Graduates will get experience of work and will start to build their CVs by working on meaningful projects.  Employing organisations, ranging from SMEs to larger companies, through to charities and the public sector, will also benefit from the availability of enthusiastic graduates who are eager to learn and who will contribute as the West Midlands prepares for the upturn."

Case study

VC Business Consulting is a Birmingham based business and marketing consultancy firm.  Accredited to Business Link's National Consultants Register, their core strengths are helping organisations to raise finance and finding more customers. Providing services in planning, marketing, research and financing, VC has helped local businesses improve their chances of success in competitive markets since 2002.  Third year graduate, Mayur Murali is currently working with VC Business Consulting and has also completed placements with Deloitte and LMM.

Laurence Hoare, Senior Consulting Partner and owner of VC Consulting and Mayur will attend the event and will be available for interview.

Notes to editors

1.      Employers and graduates interested in taking part in the West Midlands Graduate Internship Programme should contact Advantage West Midlands - http://www.advantagewm.co.uk/

2.      Graduates will be able to access internships via university careers offices, Jobcentre Plus or Graduate Advantage.  They will be matched to an employer offering a work placement of up to 26 weeks, identified by individual universities, coordinated by Graduate Advantage.

3.      The graduate and the employer will be matched and the graduate will then be required to undertake two week pre-placement training to cover core skills (communication, self and time management, team working etc).  The training will be funded through the European Social Fund.  Following the training the graduate will join the employer where they will have 30 hours per week work experience working on projects specified by the employer.  The internship / placement service will be open to graduates from West Midlands’ universities and those returning to the region.

4.      Up to 52,000 graduates are expected to leave the Region’s Universities in July 2009, and more are expected to return to the Region after study elsewhere.  Although the majority will find work, others will be unable to find work.

5.      West Midlands Higher Education Association is an association of the Region’s 13 Universities – Aston, Birmingham, Birmingham City, Coventry, Harper Adams, Keele, Newman College, Open University, Staffordshire, University College Birmingham, Warwick, Wolverhampton, and Worcester.

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research