A pioneering pilot programme that aims to encourage small firms to boost their growth by taking on talented graduates has been unveiled in Sheffield.
The RISE initiative involves the city’s two universities, the local authority and a range of businesses and other organisations.
RISE aims to find 30 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) willing to take on a graduate as an intern for six months, in the hope that the resulting benefits will persuade them to offer the intern a full-time job.
Companies will be offered a range of support, including matching them with a graduate with the right skills.
They will also get advice on setting up an internship programme, the help of a business mentor who has taken graduates on before and knows how to get the best out of them and £1,500 towards the intern’s wages.
Graduates, meanwhile, will get help to ensure they are ready for the world of work and the opportunity for continuing professional development during the internship.
Diana Buckley, from Creative Sheffield, said: “RISE is about connecting businesses in Sheffield with graduate talent.
“The universities produce 19,000 graduates a year and Sheffield has more than 16,000 SMEs.
“SME businesses make up 95 per cent of the business base and contribute half of our turnover and half of our jobs, yet only 18 per cent of SMEs employ graduates. RISE is about taking two of these best attributes and joining them together.
Coun Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council cabinet member for business, skills and development, said: “We have got some fantastic graduate talent in the city.
“Too often that talent is going to waste because of the financial climate, which is not good for the young people, the SMEs in the city or growing the economy. That is why RISE is so important, bridging the gap between graduates and SMEs.
“SMEs can offer a really exciting future to graduates and young people facing a very difficult time with the level of graduate employment.
“This is a fantastic programme.”
Mark Webber, managing director of Sheffield engineering group Tinsley Bridge, emphasised the benefits of taking on graduates.
“We used to take a lot of graduates, but we went 15 years without taking graduates on,” said Mr Webber.
“We have got a lot of talent in the business, but it’s old and we are running out of time to pass that on to the next generation.”
Mr Webber stressed the important role graduates could play in helping companies to change.
“There is no point in pushing graduates into companies that are not interested in changing, but if you feel you need to change, then you have to do something different and that is where a graduate helps you.”
For more information about RISE, visit http://www.welcometosheffield.co.uk/rise.