Partnership approach for employers to make the most of business links

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James Fraser, Principal and Vice-Chancellor with SSE trainee Adam MacLeod

The University of the Highlands and Islands and its academic partners are joining forces to capitalise on opportunities to work directly with employers to provide the graduates and training businesses are looking for.

The new ‘For Employers’ service will pull together the wealth of education activity already underway by providing one point of contact.

“The University of the Highlands and Islands is currently the only university that enables employers to access the full range of all post school education,” explained Gary I Campbell, University of the Highlands and Islands key account director.

“Most universities concentrate on higher education meaning that as an employer, if you want a mix of postgraduate education for senior staff but also some skills training for those just starting out in their career, you would have to engage with a number of different educational establishments. Our network of 13 academic partners, however, covers the full range of education available in the UK today from technical college level courses through to internationally recognised post-doctoral research work.”

The majority of existing contact for employers in the Highlands and Islands is made through the university’s network of academic partners. “But we’re also aware we are a geographically large and complex education partnership which can be difficult for business to interact with,” added Gary I Campbell. “Our ‘For Employers’ service will ensure that the route to support and advice for employers is clear and that our partnership, whether the university, colleges or research institutions engage with employers in as effective and efficient a way as possible.”

The university has already signed agreements with Scottish and Southern Energy and The Crown Estate to commit to working together to maximise the benefits to the people of the Highlands and Islands from the low carbon energy revolution in the area.

The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, tasked with bringing forward a range of recommendations designed to improve young people’s transition into employment, recently published its first report providing recommendations to the Scottish Government. In his introduction, Chair, Sir Ian Wood stressed the “importance of business and industry working with schools and colleges as a key factor in ensuring young people are more prepared for employment and better informed in career choice with the opportunity to develop knowledge, experience and skills appropriate to the regional and national employment opportunities”.

A recent Universities Scotland report[1] on employability highlighted the importance of ensuring that graduates from Scottish universities are able to secure employment, have the attributes that employers want and that universities do all that they can to help their students in this area. The Scottish Government publication “Putting Learners at the Centre: Delivering Our Ambitions for Post-16 Education” (September 2011) emphasised to do this effectively would demand “a clear, continued and purposeful dialogue with employers about what it is they need – looking as far ahead as possible.”

“I fully believe better links between employers and young people preparing to join the workplace benefits all involved, so I am pleased to see the University of the Highlands and Islands going further to meet the demands of local employers,” said Angela Constance, Minister for Youth Employment.

“I want to see young people in the best possible position to take up a job and this initiative is an important step that can make a big difference to the local economy by plugging gaps in in-demand skills, supporting local businesses to thrive and helping start graduates onto rewarding careers.

“Good progress is being made across Scotland on improving youth employment and initiatives like this can help build on the momentum that has been generated.”

Fiona Larg, chief operating officer and secretary of the University of the Highlands and Islands added: “Working closely and actively with business is natural for our education partnership. And being able to do that on a multitude of levels, from technical skills, through to degree qualified graduates and cutting edge research lets us prepare our graduates for work and fulfil our common purpose to serve our communities’ needs.”

To find out more about the ‘For Employers’ service visit the university website


Media contact

Alison Lochhead

Communications manager

Tel: 01463 279222


Notes for editors

[1] Universities Scotland Employability Report – “Taking Pride in the Job” published April 2013