Business scheme gives students a helping hand

Helen Wilson and Stuart Dawson

Students at the University of Cumbria are being offered the chance to gain valuable work experience to increase their chances of gaining employment when they graduate.

The Unite with Business project allows students to undertake a 20 day paid placement at a local business, allowing them to make an impact on the company they are working for as well as gaining valuable experience that they can demonstrate to potential future employers.

The scheme is free to all businesses and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and backed by 6 regional universities; University of Cumbria, Lancaster University, University of Bolton, University of Salford, University of Chester and the University of Central Lancashire.

The project is aimed at final year students and recent graduates on all courses and has proved to be a great success.

Stuart Dawson, 29 and from Carlisle, is one of an increasing number of success stories of the project. Stuart signed up for the project after completing his degree in Business Management and was paired up with local business The Flower Bank who are based in Wreay and supply customers with plants and flowers throughout the North West and Scotland.

Following his initial spell with them, the company were so impressed with Stuart that they offered him a permanent job after he successfully set up an online ordering system for the business from scratch.

“Stuart’s impact on The Flower Bank has been extremely positive,” said Helen Wilson, owner of the florists.

Stuart spoke about his experience so far: “I have enjoyed every minute of my time at the Flower Bank so far. The Unite project has really opened doors for me and I would advise both graduates and employees to get involved as it is a great scheme which benefits everyone involved”.

Steve Minto, who is project officer for the scheme at the University of Cumbria, says: “The scheme allows graduates to put themselves in the shop window by putting the skills they have learnt into action”.

Students are able to do more than one placement with approximately 240 companies involved with the scheme including Flowerbank, Country Puddings and Galpin Landscape Architecture.

Michael Garvey

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