SMALL firms in Huddersfield can now harness the skills and enthusiasm of university graduates under a new internship scheme.
Huddersfield University, which has a successful track record in placing graduates with larger firms – has launched the scheme to enable smaller companies to offer internships lasting up to three months.
Graduates who gain a place will receive £300 a week – half paid by the university.
Kirklees is one of the focus areas for the scheme – along with Calderdale, Wakefield and Barnsley. The scheme aims to start placing interns with firms by the summer and is funding up to 30 places.
The scheme also reflects the importance of supporting the small business sector – which employs almost half of the UK workforce and accounts for 99% of UK firms.
Andrew Stainton, of the university’s careers and employability service said: “Traditionally, small businesses tend not to recruit graduates.
“But one advantage for a small firm is that an internship offers them the chance to take in someone who offers skills that nobody else in the company currently possesses.
“The skills in question might be in IT, marketing or design, but they could be anything. A graduate, from whatever discipline, is someone who is full of fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm.”
Mr Stainton is now inviting smaller companies – typically those employing fewer than 50 people – to show their interest in offering a graduate internship.
The post will then be advertised to recent Huddersfield University graduates and the careers service team will draw up shortlists of the six most suitable applicants from which the firm can make a final choice.
Mr Stainton said: “We think of ourselves as the local university for local small businesses.
“It’s not just about providing some work experience. The firms will benefit from the skills, ideas and enthusiasm of graduates.
“Students who have done internships have generally made a really positive impact.
“Ideally, they are given a specific project, something they can get their teeth into.”
Mirfield businessman David Cramp, a local representative of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Small businesses traditionally may not consider recruiting a university graduate, especially in such challenging economic times.
“But if the graduate can offer skills and ideas that may not exist in the business, they could prove to be of enormous value.
“Many FSB members have been quick to register their interest in the graduate internship programme.
“The scheme being offered by the university gives small businesses the chance to see what benefit a graduate can add to their business without any major commitment and there has never been a better opportunity to get that development project moving.”
The scheme was also welcomed by Ranjit Rehill, who went on work placement with the Lawrence Batley Theatre while studying at the university – and is now the LBT’s press and marketing office.
She said: “Being in a smaller organisation, I was involved in everything during my placement. All the skills I learned helped me in my final year as well as teaching me how to take more responsibility.”