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Graduate scheme helps jobless climb career ladder

A group of unemployed graduates are finally embarking on their chosen careers, thanks to a University of St Andrews training scheme.

The ten graduates have just completed the Graduate Gateway Programme, which involves training in a range of key skills followed by a placement with a local employer.

The twenty-week intensive course, funded by Scottish Enterprise Fife, focuses on two main areas. The first eight weeks concentrate on crucial job skills including interview techniques, presentations and CV preparation, as well as IT training and an introduction to management and marketing. They are also required to devise a business plan from start to finish, which is presented to an invited audience, including a representative from Scottish Enterprise Fife.

Students also spend twelve weeks on placement with a company or organisation. This enables them to put into practice the skills they have learned, usually through a stand-alone, self-contained project which can be completed by the end of the 12 week period.

Run by the University’s Centre for Continuing Education and involving input from the Department of Management, IT Services and the Careers Service, the Graduate Gateway Programme is open to Fife-based graduates of all ages who have been unemployed for six months or more.

This year’s successful students include 23-year old Sally Grant of Kingskettle who graduated with a BA Hons in 3D Design in 1999. Before joining the scheme, her work experience was minimal but, after being placed with Elmwood College’s Marketing Department, she used her new skills in IT and marketing to design publicity material and a database to assist with advertising. She has since been offered the post of marketing and design assistant with a prestigious design house in Oxford. Sally said, “As a graduate, I was in a difficult position and needed a few extra skills, particularly in computer literacy, to get onto the career ladder. It’s also great to be doing something worthwhile while looking for a job – no-one wants blank spaces on their CV!”.

Meanwhile, 24-year old Aurora Sinclair, who graduated with a BSc Hons in Biochemistry from the University of St Andrews in 1998, was placed with Access Shield Diagnostics, an international company producing diagnostic equipment for medical use. She combined her scientific knowledge with her linguistic skills to produce instructions and labels for the equipment in six languages. She has since been offered a six month contract with the company.

Aurora’s supervisor Eileen McCafferty said that Aurora was a valuable addition to the team – she said, “We originally engaged Aurora from the programme for a three month placement to progress a specific aspect of a wider company project. The project has progressed to plan and, with the added contribution of Aurora, specific elements of the project are further forward than originally envisaged. We are impressed not only by the significant contribution of Aurora but also by the support and back-up from the Graduate Gateway Programme”.

Meanwhile, Susan Edington, Training Executive with Scottish Enterprise Fife believes that the programme plays a crucial role in the area’s employment sector – “The Graduate Gateway Programme has been run successfully for many years by the University of St Andrews. The programme enjoys a high success rate in helping unemployed graduates to gain up-to-date management and IT skills and then move into employment”.

Thought to be one of the most successful ventures of its kind in the UK, the Graduate Gateway Programme has seen over 75% of students moving into full-time employment within twelve weeks of completion.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – Photograph and left-to-right attached.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: gradgateway.2000/standrews/chg/16june2000

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