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Business / Graduates and companies benefit from eight placements

Martin Turner.

EIGHT graduates have been recruited at businesses and social enterprises across Shetland through a programme funded and delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Graduate Support Programme helps companies in the Highlands and Islands by offering 12-month, well-paid work experience placements in key sectors. It provides graduates with much-needed experience to advance their careers.

The HIE funding is 75 per cent of the graduate’s salary up to a maximum of £15,000 with the other 25 per cent coming from the business. The funding for this particular scheme is to support Covid recovery.

With the help of the programme, Martin Turner joined Laurence Odie Knitwear in Hoswick as a digital marketing and branding graduate.

The company operates the Shetland Woollen Co. brand and is primarily focused on the manufacture and wholesale of high-quality garments.

The decision to employ a graduate started when the firm was awarded a digital enablement grant from HIE to help build a new website. They soon realised that somebody would need to join the team to drive the brand forward and lead on social media and online marketing.

Turner, originally from Orkney, had moved to Shetland with his partner after completing a fashion and design degree at the Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design in Galashiels.

Struggling to find a role which would allow him to use his fashion qualifications, the graduate placement opportunity came at the right time.

“The advert for the role mentioned the chance to expand on the skills you could bring to the role to develop new opportunities. That really appealed to me as I saw how I would bring design skills in addition to my digital marketing and branding experience,” he said.

Meanwhile in Lerwick, Solene Giraudeau-Potel was recruited as woodlands development co-ordinator for Shetland Amenity Trust.

Solene Giraudeau-Potel.

With the rising importance of reaching net zero carbon, the organisation grasped the opportunity to expand its woodland operations and increase its team capacity by taking on a graduate.

Growing up in the French countryside, Giraudeau-Potel dreamed of living by the sea and was happy to have found herself at home in the Highlands and Islands.

She moved to Aberdeen to study in English before transferring to SAMS in Oban for a BA and MA in marine science, then moving to Shetland when she and her partner found work locally prior to her placement.

Although her role in woodland development is different to those covered in her marine science education, she views the role as a valuable entry point into her specialism of choice: conservation.

“I’ve learned lots of new tools, like project management, and also found out what it’s like to work in conservation and in a not-for-profit environment, which was all new for me. Because this was a new job, I’ve also been able to be flexible and develop different parts of the job, which I’ve really enjoyed,” she said.

Shaun Cameron.

Shaun Cameron from Aberdeen is currently at a fourth-year student at the University of Aberdeen. He successfully applied to join the team in a graduate marketing and digitisation role at Lerwick Fabrication and Engineers Ltd (LEF).

“Since I started at the company, I’ve made key contributions such as implementing an increased presence on a range of social media platforms, as well as improving the communication capacity of LEF with stakeholders and customers,” Cameron said.

“I have also been presented with further opportunity to accelerate my career within the business team at LEF, an opportunity which I am very excited about.”

Local HIE area manager Katrina Wiseman added: “My first role after leaving university was a HIE supported graduate placement, so I really appreciate and understand the value of these opportunities for graduates, and also how it brings young people back to live and work in the islands.

“The programme is an excellent initiative, which offers generous financial support, enabling employers to bring in enthusiastic and skilled graduates keen to implement their learning in the workplace.”

Other businesses that have recruited graduates through the programme in Shetland are Malakoff Limited, Voar Energy Ltd, Ocean Kinetics Ltd and SaxaVord Spaceport.