Graduate Recruitment: A chance to be employable: Stephen Pritchard looks at a successful training scheme in the North-east that is attracting graduates to the area and finding them jobs

As miners at Wearmouth colliery, Sunderland, faced the closure of the last pit in the Durham coalfield, recent graduates were being interviewed for a scheme designed to bring vital new skills to the region's small firms.

Graduate Into Enterprise North-East (Giene) combines classroom-based training with a placement at a local business that does not have a record of graduate recruitment. The scheme aims to help firms and trainees: the company has the use of an extra pair of hands, usually to carry out a specific project, while the graduate receives valuable work experience.

Giene also addresses the problem of graduates leaving the North-east by encouraging more local firms to consider taking them on. It is one of a number of graduate training schemes belonging to the umbrella organisation 'Training for Work'; the exact way the schemes operate is decided by the various Training and Enterprise Councils (Tecs) according to local needs. Where Giene's scheme differs from others is in its emphasis on training the students before placing them with a firm; most schemes run training and placements side by side.

The programmes are run under contract from Wearside and Northumberland Tecs. Graduates must have been out of work for 26 weeks to take part, but they need no connection with the North-east other than a willingness to work there.

Ted Giblin, Giene's managing director, says students often choose university courses for the wrong reasons. This can be a handicap when the time comes to find a job, especially as firms prefer to see applicants who have relevant work experience.

'What Giene does,' he explains, 'is give graduates the chance to be more employable.' But his aims go beyond simply helping graduates to find work. 'We started the scheme in order to increase graduate retention - to get people to come here, and to convince people who study here to stay,' says Mr Giblin. 'Wearside's salvation relies on local people and the people that can be brought in.'

Currently, Giene offers courses in information technology, marketing, quality management and, most recently, environmental management for business.

Amanda Barnaby graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English literature and classics, but turned to a Giene programme to gain a grounding in business. She took the quality management course and went on to work for a manufacturing firm, Superior Pipelines. She now works for Twinings, the tea company.

'I wanted to be in management,' she explains. 'I had worked for a charity in London but I wanted something that would give me a future. My degree course had not set me up for anything specific.' A six-week training period in Sunderland was followed by the placement at Superior Pipelines. 'The placement was excellent,' she says. 'The training was intense, but the company was very supportive. It was putting into practice what I had learnt and it gave me self-confidence.' Amanda feels that the boost to her confidence was as important as the training. 'A lot of graduates come out into a bad economic climate,' she adds. 'You're promised that with a degree, you're made. It seems a bit cruel when you then come out with none of the rewards. The course puts you in touch with people in the same situation.'

David Arthur started Giene's information technology course after taking an HND in business information technology at Teesside Polytechnic. He wanted to continue to work with computers but had little luck with the job search after finishing at college. 'Giene was an addition to what I had done before,' he says. 'It was a chance to use more packages and to explore more in-depth IT management scenarios. But the main attraction was the placement - a chance to get a foot in the door somewhere.'

He succeeded in this, and now works full time as an information technology trainer with the Tyne and Wear Chamber of Commerce in Sunderland, his placement hosts. Although most Giene placements are based around a project, David found himself working as a trainer from the start.

'I came here on the Monday and the person I took over from left on the Tuesday. My biggest problem was learning packages there and then that I hadn't used before. I overcame that by taking the manuals home. It was a challenge but I enjoyed it. I would have learnt a lot even if the placement hadn't led to a job,' says David.

Karen Winrow, a graduate in electrical engineering, started on the Giene marketing programme hoping to find a placement with a firm in which her degree subject would be relevant. 'I thought I would be more comfortable in a technical company, working on the marketing and business side. That was a confidence thing,' she explains. 'I had six weeks of directed training at Giene. This included the basic theories behind marketing, and how it fits into the structure of a business.' She also continued studying for a professional qualification - the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma - during her placement.

Finding a placement proved a struggle for Karen at first. She was unable to find an opening in a field related to her degree, so she resorted to speculative applications and was offered a placement at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, where she now works as a marketing and public relations officer. At the trust, Karen's work included a research project on charities that it could approach to raise funds.

She also worked on an assessment of the trust's trading company, Northumberland Environmental Services, investigating marketing strategies for it. 'It helps you to put into practice what you were learning on the scheme, including budgeting, planning and communications,' says Karen. 'That's how the placement functions: it's an aid to the learning process. One of my main reasons for going on the course was the practical element; that's what matters nowadays. Employers want to know that you can do the job.'

Graduate Into Enterprise North-east: Giene House, 50 Borough Road, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR1 1XW. Course vacancies are advertised in the local press and through careers services.

(Photograph omitted)

Sport
Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, Finance, MSc, PhD)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Financial Technical Consultant (C++, C#, F...

Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 3 Teacher Required We are curr...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Year 5 Primary Teaching positionRands...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone