An innovative million-pound project designed to unlock the talents of graduates and Norfolk’s thriving small-medium enterprises will start this summer following a successful bid to the Office for Students (Ofs).
The Gateways to Growth – Unlocking Talent in Norfolk project will receive £300,000 of funding from the Office for Students and attract additional support from partners making the total project worth £1,000,000.
UEA led the successful bid to the Ofs Challenge Competition. It will run for three years and aims to boost engagement between graduates and Norfolk’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through internships and enhanced skills training linked to Norfolk’s Enterprise hubs.
• £1,000,000 project, including £300,000 Ofs grant
• 1,600+ Norfolk SME businesses and 750 graduates supported over three years
• Focus on working with six Enterprise hubs linking SMEs with graduate interns.
UEA Vice Chancellor Professor David Richardson said: “Bringing talented graduates and Norfolk’s innovative SME businesses together is vital for our region. UEA has a significant role to play in support of Norfolk’s thriving local industries and this project will deliver real benefits both to our graduates and to small and medium enterprises in our county.
“UEA is proud to be leading this project which will help stimulate and support local industry and entrepreneurs and graduates.”
The tailor-made project will address some of the problems faced by Norwich and Norfolk’s economy and UEA’s graduates, many of whom want to remain in Norfolk after completing their studies but struggle to secure graduate level employment. Julie Schofield, Joint Head of UEA Careers Service, said: “Our graduates love to stay in the city and county and yet there is a perception that there are too few graduate jobs for them. Our local economy is 90%+ SME and from our research we know that graduates do not always think that employment in an SME is a viable career option and SMEs do not always appreciate what a graduate can do for their business.”
Chris Starkie, Chief Executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We have more than 60,000 businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk so there is a huge opportunity for graduates to find excellent roles on their doorstep and have a fulfilling career. There is also substantial investment in tech and energy taking place therefore these sectors will experience immense growth. Now more than ever this is the place where ideas become reality and you will want to be part of it.”
The winning bid has been developed by University of East Anglia (UEA), with support from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP); Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council, South Norfolk Council, UEA SU, Hethel Innovation Centre, Kings Lynn Innovation Centre, Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor and the St Georges Works.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students said: “There is an outdated assumption that the typical student experience involves moving far away from home to study and work. This is not true for a large number of students and graduates, and we know that, whether by choice or circumstance, many stay in their home towns.”
“Graduates should not have to move to London to get good jobs. It is essential that those who stay in their home towns and cities can enter high-skilled work and are not locked out of the graduate labour market.”
“This funding will help universities and colleges find ways to remove barriers to local graduate employment, broaden the choice for those local graduates, and help ensure that students are getting the right skills to enter rewarding work. It’s good news for graduates, universities and local employers in search of highly-skilled, work-ready graduates.”