Delegates from the local business community attended the inaugural Project SEARCH: Meet the Interns event at the University of Aberdeen this week. This event marked the launch of the second year of Project SEARCH in Aberdeen.
Project SEARCH is a collaborative project between the University, Aberdeen-based charity Inspire and North East Scotland College. The one-year programme sees 12 Project SEARCH Interns, who are all registered students with North East Scotland College, spending a month in a classroom environment before embarking on internships in various roles and departments within the University.
The Meet the Interns event provided members of the local business community with an opportunity to meet with the Interns to find out more about the programme, and to explore the possibility of establishing a mentoring relationship with one of them. The event also enabled the Project SEARCH team to identify acute areas of skills shortages facing local organisations. These areas will now be incorporated into the curriculum with a view to ensuring the development of a sustainable pool of talent for future recruitment in the region.
Professor Neva Haites, Vice Principal for Development at the University of Aberdeen, said: “The one year programme is delivered on our Old Aberdeen campus and enables twelve Interns per year to receive support to undertake 3 work placements within the University, whilst studying to attain a vocational qualification.
“Upon the conclusion of the project, the Interns receive support to source and sustain paid employment and I am delighted that 11 out of 12 of our 2013/14 graduates are now in work in a variety of organisations across the Grampian area.
“I am delighted that key organisations within the North East of Scotland have embraced this programme with such enthusiasm.”
Project SEARCH tutor Andrew Thomson added: “This event allows the Interns an opportunity to meet local employers and practice professionalism in the workplace, it also allows them an opportunity to see a range of potential jobs in their communities and help them focus on jobs that they might aim for after Project SEARCH.”
Now in its second year, the project has received national recognition, including being named as the foremost ‘up and coming’ new Project SEARCH site in Europe and receiving the ‘Raising Achievement’ Award at the recent Aberdeen Children’s and Young People’s Services Awards. In addition, the programme has been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious national Green Gown Awards, which will take place next week in Manchester.
It is anticipated that a follow-up event will take place in Spring 2015 to enable those employers who attended the event to see the progress made by the Interns and consider how their talents could be used within their organisations upon graduation.