A SCHEME to put graduates into small businesses has won a £666,000 grant from Europe to expand its work.
Newcastle University has been growing its placement scheme and it will find 160 graduates a 12-week placement and will pay grown half of their £16,000 pro-rata wage.
The Improving SME performance through Graduate Apprentices scheme will run until 2014 with the European Regional Development Fund grant.
The university says it aims to give graduates the opportunity to seek new opportunities and stay within the region after a smaller scheme which ran from 2009-11 saw more than 90% of the graduates kept on with the firms they worked for.
One of those, masters graduate Euan Martin, secured a role at Lynx Fishing in Alnwick after impressing during his placement.
Martin, who had a business management and masters in international business management at Newcastle University, is now the firm’s first digital marketing manager. The job sees him formalising the company brand and identity, developing the company website and establishing and managing the corporate social media strategy, among other things.
He said: “The Graduate Apprentice scheme is fantastic. It gave me the opportunity to gain some quality work experience. That is invaluable at a time when youth unemployment is the highest it has been for many decades.
“I feel I have learnt a lot while being on placement and it has certainly helped me in terms of gaining experience .”
Nick Keeley, director of the careers service at Newcastle University, said: “We are committed to retaining our graduates in the region and this scheme offers the perfect opportunity to do just that. Thanks to this funding from ERDF, businesses can take on a graduate without the risks associated with hiring a new employee. It is a great way for small companies to increase their productivity.”