A new pilot scheme is set to help businesses in the West Midlands access graduate level skills and knowledge, boosting performance in the workplace while providing unemployed graduates with vital experience of work.
The West Midlands Graduate Internship programme will provide 250 places over the next six months, enabling more employers to offer placements and adding to existing placement and support services.
The service will help graduates to gain experience of work and access tailored job recruitment training. They may also be able to claim Jobseekers Allowance.
The project is part funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. It is delivered through a partnership which includes the regional Institute of Directors, Jobcentre Plus, the region’s universities, Aston University’s placement service Graduate Advantage and Advantage West Midlands.
Dr Richard Hutchins, deputy chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, said WMGI was the latest support available to help businesses and students in the region succeed, in spite of the recession, offering employers a unique opportunity to work with graduates to help them develop their business and providing unemployed graduates with vital experience of work.
He 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 project improves graduates’ chances of becoming employed and staying employed in the future.
“We must maintain the hard work to connect employers with graduate skills and speed up the pace wherever possible if we are to boost performance in the workplace, close the output gap and be ready to maximise the crucial business opportunities that will be presented by the economic upturn.”
Jason Norris, associate at Global Employer Services Deloitte, benefitted from an internship programme a year ago that placed him with three different firms in the region, and resulted in him being offered a job by his current employer Deloitte.
Mr Norris said: “Today’s graduates face the challenge of fewer jobs and employers who require real business experience. The WMGI programme is a unique opportunity for graduates to gain real experience of work in this challenging market place.
“WMGI extends internship opportunities to many more graduates, making them more employable and helping to improve the performance of businesses in the region.”
Professor Christine King, chairwoman 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 WMGI will give individuals and employers throughout the West Midlands real added advantage.”
John Rider, representative of the Institute of Directors, West Midlands and member of the regional enterprise board, said: “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.
“Employers will also benefit from the availability of graduates eager to learn and who will contribute as the region prepares for the upturn.”
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.”
WMGI is being run by Graduate Advantage. 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, co-ordinated by Graduate Advantage.
The graduate will then be required to undertake two weeks of pre-placement work orientation training to cover skills like communication, self and time management and team working and so on.
The training will be funded through the European Social Fund, which is delivered locally by Jobcentre Plus through its training providers.