Comment - How to halt the brain drain – and keep Sheffield RISE-ing

One of the joys of working for a small firm is learning the ropes - not just your job but the whole tangle on which it spins.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 2:13 pm

If they’re keen and personable, there’s no reason why a recruit can’t gain experience in every department, shoulder responsibility, pick up people skills and maybe a bunch of lifelong friends too.

Small companies offer a vastly different experience to a corporate giant with its strict hierarchy, disdain for initiative and dog-eat-dog ambition.

They’re also a huge part of Sheffield’s economy. But they don’t usually have slick HR operations - or one at all - and often can’t match the big boys on salary.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sheffield accountancy Moore Insight wanted two graduates but ended up hiring five through the RISE scheme. From left: Mercy Ubani, Isobel Cox, Nick Daly, Hellen Colls and Thomas Walsh.

That’s where the RISE scheme comes in. This matchmaking service is about to place its 500th graduate with small and medium-sized local firms.

It acts as a free recruitment department by advertising jobs and sifting applications. It also offers salary top-ups.

We’ve all heard of the brain drain as youngsters leave university armed with a degree and head to London for their first job - never to return.

RISE combats that by opening the door to a wealth of opportunities locally.

The Star Business Editor David Walsh.

It’s also an important part of Sheffield’s quality of life offer which includes city attractions, relatively cheap housing and a national park in the back garden.

But is it popular? Well there were 2,005 applications for this year’s crop of 52 jobs.

And the people who run it at Gradconsult say the scheme, launched in 2003, has repaid its investment 14 times over - increasing the size of the local economy by £15m.

The only potential downside is funding. The latest round had £684,132 from the European Regional Development Fund - some 58 per cent of the £1,179,658 total. The rest is from Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield. Who knows what will happen after Brexit.

But there are two concerns. The EU hands out money on the basis of need, not potential votes.

And the government has so far failed to give any details of the Shared Prosperity Fund which is supposed to replace European structural funding, despite being announced two years ago.

But future dark clouds aside, Sheffield can celebrate a scheme that has success tied up.