Locally sourced talent to support small business growth

Clara Wilcox, Placements Manager at Graduate Advantage (left) & Nicola Turner, acting Head of Employability for Aston University (right) at the launch

Graduate Advantage (GA) is gearing up to create over 1400 internships here in the West Midlands, with the long term goal of boosting business performance and the local economy.

Giving more choice to businesses, GA is not only offering the paid internships it is well known for, but will also be offering voluntary internships from July 2011, developed out of lessons learned from the highly popular West Midlands Graduate Internships pilot project, which finished last year.

This latest venture is being funded through a mixture of private sector investment, University support and a £1.6 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The new service will be led by GA, which has been arranging placements in local SMEs for over 8 years. Managed by Aston University, GA also has a track record of working in partnership with regional Universities to promote the benefits of work experience to graduates and businesses alike. 

Prof Helen Higson, Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the GA Steering Group has been a key driving force behind the new service and a passionate ambassador for getting graduates into small businesses.

She said: “To address the under-performance of the West Midlands economy we must retain graduates and match them up with businesses that need their talent. Internships are a fantastic and proven way for companies to inject fresh talent into the workplace and allow graduates to gain the skills and experience they need to get on. Through the support of ERDF and our partners across the region, we can support our graduates and address this challenge.”

Mark Foley, Director for European Programmes at Advantage West Midlands, added: “ERDF funding is vital to the development of the West Midlands. Supporting small businesses and creating jobs are key priorities and schemes such as this are excellent examples of how the funding can benefit the region as a whole and also the people and businesses living and working here.”

To find out more contact the Graduate Advantage Team on ext 4767 or visit www.graduateadvantage.co.uk.

(Graduate Advantage launched their new graduate placement service with an informal networking event at Fazeley Studios, Digbeth on Thursday, 12 May, inviting individuals and organisations from across the West Midlands to find out more about the service. Attendees included companies that have previously taken on a graduate and others considering using the service to meet their business needs as well as supporting organisations including the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses and University partners.)

Words by Claire Goodwin
24 May 2011

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