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Project Green offers new skills opportunities to graduates

Keele University’s ground-breaking placement initiative Project Green, which has placed 70 graduates into West Midlands based companies – is now recruiting for its March intake. Project Green, the University’s sustainable business programme, offers unemployed graduates – or those at risk of unemployment – the chance to gain new skills in sustainable business management and get paid at the same time.

The programme includes study towards a post graduate certificate in Sustainable Business Management and a paid work placement with a local business to tackle an environmental project lasting at least four weeks and up to a possible 12 weeks. Applicants need not have an environmental background and the scheme is open to both newly qualified graduates who are struggling to find employment, and those who may have graduated a while ago, now face unemployment and are looking to re-skill.

Keele University teamed up with Groundwork Trust, Build Up North Staffordshire and Wardell Armstrong to launch the initiative. Due to the success of the first 70 graduates completing the scheme, Keele University have been awarded further funding to complete 40 more internships.

David Glennan, Director of Uttoxeter-based Glennans, the largest manufacturer of hand cooked vegetable crisps in the UK and Europe, said: “We have taken two graduates through Project Green and it has been a very good experience. One has stayed with us to take a project through to completion. To have someone focussed specifically on a project is very useful – it will help us move towards reducing our environmental impact and help the business save money when it comes to fruition.”

David Gillions joined Glennans through Project Green and has now been awarded a six month contract with the company.

“Project Green has been great for me,” said 23 year old David. “I graduated three years ago with a degree in Astrophysics and had been working in hospitality and recruitment. The recession led to my hours being cut and then losing my job. Project Green has given me the opportunity to get into a graduate focussed environment and has led to me getting a six month contract. I am working on a project looking at how the company can become more environmentally friendly and at the same time save energy.”

Peter Hooper, Head of Research and Enterprise at Keele University, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to enter a company at graduate level, gain new skills in environmental management and gain credits towards a post graduate certificate – and get paid for it!”

Graduates will receive academic support from the University’s School of Physical & Geographical Sciences and get practical guidance from experts in environmental management.

“As well as providing the opportunity to complete two post graduate study modules, we will find the work placement, pay the graduate a £200 bursary for a four-day working week and pay the course fees,” Peter continued.

“The study segment represents half that required for a post graduate certificate and the hands-on work-based experience should be equally valuable in helping graduates gain a full-time employment in the future.”

Work placements will be for a minimum of four weeks, although the employer has the option to extend the project by a further eight weeks. The University, via Graduate Advantage, will help firms pay for extended placements by providing a 50% wage subsidy.

All projects will have an environmental theme and could include areas such as Environmental Management Systems, carbon footprint, green suppliers, green training for employees, energy consumption and recycling.

Graduates receive a £200 per week bursary, courtesy of the Economic Challenge Investment Fund bid which Keele were successful in securing earlier this year with the support of a number of local partners.

The programme will run 3 times in 2010.

Applicants can register their interest by email to ecif@uso.keele.ac.uk  They will then receive an application form and full course details.

Interested companies can call 01782 733587 or email the address above.

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