27/02/2007

Graduates Working Nine To Five

Graduates who have spent the last four months collaborating on a unique venture with local businesses have been formally congratulated on their achievements.

Belfast City Council has teamed up with Belfast Institute and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry to deliver ‘Collaborate’ – a programme to help stimulate SME growth and competitiveness, and develop local graduate talent.

“Collaborate has benefited both employer and graduate,” explained Shirley McCay, Head of Economic Initiatives at Belfast City Council.

“We offered 11 small and medium sized enterprises the full-time services of a highly-qualified, highly-motivated graduate, who carried out a project on their behalf.”

Speaking at a special ‘graduation’ ceremony to mark the end of the scheme, Ms McCay said: “For the graduates involved, it has offered them the chance to gain real experience, make a real contribution to the growth of a local employer and help themselves successfully bridge the gap between academic life and employment.

“Many of the graduates have been offered permanent positions as a result of the scheme.”

Anne Doherty from Happening Creative Communications said: “This is offering an excellent route for students to attain much needed experience in the working world.”

Participating graduates were offered a graduate-level job from day one, with full training and support throughout the four months plus a salary.

Laura Henderson, a participating ‘Collaborate’ graduate, paid tribute to the programme for providing a real opportunity to enhance her personal and employability skills.

“Working for Forward Learning has been a great experience for me. It has offered me the chance to gain much needed experience at a professional level. The support from the Collaborate team has also been excellent. I would recommend it to other graduates because it has paid a vital part in starting my career," she added.

(JM/SP)

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