Expansion planned for small firms' graduate jobs scheme

September 15, 2000

An innovative graduate employment scheme in Edinburgh, chaired by Andrew Cubie, could be expanded across the country in a bid to support small and medium-sized businesses.

The Graduates for Growth scheme, launched two years ago, has placed 75 graduates in permanent jobs in local SMEs.

Mr Cubie, whose chairmanship of the not-for-profit scheme is unpaid, said its success stemmed from "a very effective and exceptional partnership" between the city's four higher education institutions, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and the business community.

He added: "It is hard to hold something like this within very territorial boundaries, and there's a logical progression that leads us to look at the prospects of a national scheme."

A conference for universities and chambers of commerce nationwide, Graduates for Scotland's Growth, will be held in Edinburgh on September 28.

The matchmaking scheme explains to graduates that they can gain greater responsibility in SMEs than in blue-chip companies, with their contribution more likely to be recognised. It helps SMEs to identify the kind of recruit they need, and to structure responsibilities, training and rewards to get the best results from them. Companies pay a small fee when they take on a graduate full time.

More than 90 per cent of the SMEs using the scheme say that graduates are good value for money, 88 per cent say that graduates have brought new ideas, and 78 per cent say that graduates have contributed to company growth.

Pump priming funding from Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise will soon run out, but director Margaret Allan said she was "quietly confident" of attracting new support.

"Most of our employers would say it's a very cost-effective method of recruitment. We take the pain out of the process and act as their human resources department," she said.

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