Monday, 18 March 2013

Cumbria Uni unites local business with graduate interns

Up-to-the-minute skills in online marketing and social media are increasingly necessary in today’s business environment. Local businesses have been taking advantage of a University of Cumbria scheme to help fill that knowledge gap.

‘Unite with Business’ offers small companies across the North West the opportunity to take on a graduate for 20 days at no cost to themselves until 30 June 2013. With funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and six regional universities, the scheme has already proved a success with both businesses and graduates (who are paid £6.19 per hour gross). The programme is open to graduates, post graduates and final year undergraduate students residing in the North West area.

Badger Press of Windermere is a traditional print business set up 29 years ago and now run by partners David Hunt and Dennis Bland, who recognise the importance of staying abreast of changing technologies.
Through the university-run scheme, they were matched with graduate Andrew Tomkinson (26) of Backbarrow, to help the business explore what David calls ‘twenty-first century ways of working’.

“We were very impressed with Andrew”, David says, “and recognised that he brought the skills we needed to move the company forward.  On completion of the four-week placement, we were delighted to offer him a full-time permanent position with responsibility for our re-branding and the online aspects of our business.”

Andrew comments:
“The placement at Badger Press gave me the opportunity to work on a strategic planning project for the business. After formally presenting my recommendations to the directors and staff, it resulted in me being offered a full-time position – my ideal job!”

A business based in Staveley has also benefited from the scheme. Creative Branch is a design and ideas company who work with businesses to maintain branding, marketing and awareness. Local graduate Philip Gerrish explains:

“Creative Branch was the fourth placement I undertook through Unite with Business and it proved to be a good fit for myself and the business. I was delighted when they offered me a position as their online marketing officer; I’m now in a rewarding job in the industry I've always wanted to be in.”

Creative Branch studio manager Jeremy Smyth is equally enthusiastic:
“The risk of employing a new person in a new role is reduced when working with Unite with Business, as it allows everyone in the relationship to relax a little and find their feet."

Pippa Greenwood from Unite with Business at the University of Cumbria said:
“The scheme helps both business growth and keeps graduate level skills in Cumbria. It provides small-to-medium businesses with free access to specialist skills, but brings none of the risk and cost associated with employment or short-term recruitment. “

If you would like to take part in Unite with Business contact the University of Cumbria’s Business Placement Service on 01228 616315, via email  or visit

Other partners in the scheme include the Universities of Lancaster, Central Lancashire, Bolton, Salford and Chester.

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