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Posted 29.04.19

Creating opportunities for STEM graduates and businesses in Devon

By Kat Peberdy

Made@EU participant using the facilities at Plymouth College of Art

Small and medium-sized enterprises looking for high-quality graduate employees are the focus of a new initiative led by the University of Plymouth in partnership with Plymouth College of Art.

STEM Graduates into Business looks to help connect companies in Devon, on the hunt for specific expertise, with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates. The programme is open to graduates of any UK university and offers talented graduates the opportunity to either stay in or come to the county and undertake a six to twelve-month paid internship.

Thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), each eligible business will receive incentive payments once the graduate completes their employment. There are more than 5,000 small and medium-sized enterprises across Devon but they can often be overlooked by graduates looking for jobs in favour of larger organisations outside the region.

Simon Taylor, STEM Graduates into Business Project Manager, said:

“Small businesses make a great contribution to the regional economy and we are lucky to have many great companies in fields from manufacturing to digital technology and much more. However, they often have difficulty attracting candidates with the skills to complete a certain challenge or task, sometimes because graduates simply aren’t aware of what’s on their doorstep.

"This project aims to meet that demand while providing graduates – many of whom will either be from Devon or have had a great time studying here – the chance to continue making a positive contribution to their local community.”

The project is being run in partnership with Plymouth College of Art, University of Exeter, City College Plymouth, Petroc, and South Devon College.

Plymouth College of Art is home to Fab Lab Plymouth which is available to students across all areas and levels of the college, allowing a fusion of art, science, and technology. Fab Lab Plymouth is part of the international Fab Lab network which includes over 250 Labs across more than 30 countries, and filled with the latest in digital design technology; from our 3D printer, 3D scanner, and laser cutter to the CNC milling machine, CNC router, and vinyl cutter.

“We are now hoping to reach out to more companies to make them aware of what the STEM Graduates into Business project can offer, and how working with us could unlock new potential within their business.” – Simon Taylor, Project Manager

Over the next two years, the STEM Graduate into Business project aims to help 80 individual businesses across Devon in recruiting a STEM graduate, who will help the company to innovate within a particular specialist area.

Those opportunities will be advertised for free through the project’s networks, including careers services at the universities and colleges, and graduates who have completed any science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree will be able to apply.

As well as providing short term solutions, the project aims to help create a growing network of graduating employing SMEs who can generate longer-term opportunities for graduates within the local economy, helping to retain more of the talent produced within the area.

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