New £1m scheme could create hundreds of graduate job opportunities in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 14:46 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:46 16 May 2019
A million-pound initiative to unlock the potential of graduates and small businesses in Norfolk is set to kick off this summer.
The Gateway to Growth - Unlocking Talent in Norfolk project aims to address problems faced by the local economy and graduates - many who want to remain in Norfolk after completing their studies but struggle to secure graduate level employment.
The three-year project represents a total investment of £1m, including £300,000 from the Office for Students (OFS), and aims to forge stronger links between graduates and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through internships and skills training linked to six enterprise hubs.
It expects to support at least 1,600 businesses and 750 graduates over three years.
The UEA led the successful bid to the OFS' challenge competition.
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The university's vice chancellor 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 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."
According to Nicola Dandridge, OFS chief executive, there is an "outdated assumption" that the typical student experience involves moving away from home to study and work.
She said: "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."
The bid to the OFS was supported by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Norfolk County, Norwich City and South Norfolk Councils, Hethel Innovation Centre, King's Lynn Innovation Centre, the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor and St George's Works in Norwich.
Julie Schofield, joint head of UEA Careers Service, said SMEs - which make up 90pc of the Norfolk economy - and graduates often do not recognise the opportunities they can offer to each other.
"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," she said.