Graduates to go

Graduate AdvantageLaunching their new graduate internship service at a busy networking event in Birmingham, Graduate Advantage (GA) is gearing up to create over 1400 internships here in the West Midlands, with the long term goal of boosting business performance and the local economy.

Giving more choice to businesses, GA is not only offering the paid internships they are well known for, but they will also be offering voluntary internships from July 2011, developed out of lessons learned from the highly popular West Midlands Graduate Internships pilot project, which finished last year.

This latest venture is being funded through a mixture of private sector investment, University support and a £1.6 million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The new service will be led by GA, which has been arranging placements in local SMEs for over 8 years. Managed by Aston University, GA also has a track record of working in partnership with regional Universities to promote the benefits of work experience to graduates and businesses alike.

Professor Helen Higson OBE, Senior Pro Vice Chancellor at Aston University and Chair of the GA Steering Group has been a key driving force behind the new service and a passionate ambassador for getting graduates into small businesses.

She said: “To address the under-performance of the West Midlands economy we must retain graduates and match them up with businesses that need their talent. Internships are a fantastic and proven way for companies to inject fresh talent into the workplace and allow graduates to gain the skills and experience they need to get on.

Through the support of ERDF and our partners across the region, we can support our graduates and address this challenge.”

Mark Foley, Director for European Programmes at Advantage West Midlands, added: “ERDF funding is vital to the development of the West Midlands. Supporting small businesses and creating jobs are key priorities and schemes such as this are excellent examples of how the funding can benefit the region as a whole and also the people and businesses living and working here.”

Graduate Advantage arranges both paid and voluntary internships across the West Midlands. It is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2002 to build and improve links between the business community and the student and graduate population within the region. The scheme is supported by a consortium of universities, led by Aston University.

Graduate Advantage has been made up of a number of projects and has delivered in excess of 2200 placements in its last funding round (up to end of March 2011).