Small businesses can reap the rewards of student placements - as long as they choose their graduates carefully, the owner of the iconic car manufacturer Morgan has claimed.
Charles Morgan, corporate strategy director of Morgan Motors, based in Malvern, Worcestershire, said bright graduates could provide additional skills and labour for growing businesses that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
"We have had some bad experiences with graduates - but there is talent out there, if you get the interviewing process right.
"To obtain an engineering degree means you have to have some capacity for innovation."
Mr Morgan said this was his primary message for this year's B2B Midlands, which will be held at the new Ricoh Arena in Coventry on October 18 and 19.
The event is designed to provide SMEs with access to advice, ideas and inspiration and, along with Mr Morgan, will include a host of speakers including ex-Conservative politician Michael Portillo, Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo Sushi!, Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers and Knickerbox and Coffee Republic founder Sahar Hashemi.
Morgan Motors currently has three students working on placements, all involved in integral parts of the company's process and development.
Matthew Humphries, a 22-year-old graduate of Coventry University's Automotive Design degree course, was given a chance of a lifetime during a placement with Morgan - he developed the Aeromax, a touring coupe version of Morgan's Aero 8.
"I wasn't expecting to be so involved," said Mr Humphries. "But I'm glad that Charles trusted me enough to drop me in at the deep-end.
"He worked very closely with me, but I was responsible for drawing up designs and making a clay model of the car.
To be given that freedom was exceptional."
Mr Humphries had to present his designs to Mr Morgan and Prince Eric I Sturdza, president of Baque Baring Brothers Suisse, who had commissioned the car.
The Aeromax was developed from sketches to construction in around four months and was launched in March.
Having graduated this summer, Mr Humphries is now returning to work with Morgan Motors on a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership Scheme, run by Birmingham's Technology Innovation Centre (TIC).
The scheme means that Mr Humphries salary will be part-paid by the Government through the TIC.
"The automotive design industry is pretty tough to get into," said Mr Humphries.
"Only 15 of the 50 students on my course have so far got jobs.
"I think schemes such as this are a great way to get graduates into a company."
Mr Humphries will be part of the design team working on the Morgan LIFECar - the first sports car to be powered by environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel cell.
"I hope I can help bring the brand back into view for a younger generation.
"I want them to say 'wow' when they see a Morgan," Mr Humphries said.
He added: "The LIFECar will be a wake up call to other, larger manufacturers.
"For a small company to design something that would be great fun to drive through the Cotswolds but, also, won't annoy the residents with noise or pollute the environment, will really throw down the gauntlet to other car producers."