Lifeline for struggling local businesses

Lifeline for struggling local businesses

PA 102/09

The University of Nottingham is to share in 27m of government funding to offer practical help and support to local individuals and businesses during the economic downturn.

The University has won 500,000 through the Economic Challenge Investment Fund — a scheme announced today by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFC) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). The scheme, which has awarded funds to 70 universities and colleges, is designed to offer practical help to thousands of individuals and hundreds of businesses in the form of internships and work placements for students.

With match funding from the university and local businesses this will provide 1m for the Centre for Career Development (CCD), the Institute of Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Graduate School to deliver the ‘Talent Builder’ project. The project will offer internships to graduates, post-graduates and unemployed professionals. It will also offer a recession proofing programme to strengthen current businesses and support new start-up companies.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Greenaway said: “The effects of the recession are all too evident on individuals and industry with redundancies, rising unemployment, fewer vacancies, closing businesses and decreasing order-books. The University of Nottingham has a unique portfolio of expertise in delivering strategies to support individuals’ employability and business development.”

Led by Stephen McAuliffe the Director of CCD, the Talent Builder project will help launch; a new graduate placement programme for graduates to work in the University; set up partnerships with local and regional businesses; and support those students in developing further employability skills with a training programme linked to their work experiences.

Postgraduate students will be offered short term placements within businesses in the region to work on projects or activities that support that business during the economic downturn.

The University will also run workshops to look at creativity and taking advantage of unique opportunities that are presented in the current economic climate and offer business training support.

Dr Paul Greatrix, the University’s Registrar, said: “I am delighted with the news that our bid to the Economic Challenge Investment Fund has been successful, which will allow us further scope to demonstrate our commitment to developing and harnessing home grown talent. Already, schemes at Nottingham such as the successful Graduate Trainee Programme, in which Nottingham graduates spend 12 months experiencing a number of placements across the University’s administration, is helping us to bring through our own managers, administrators and leaders of the future.”

Minister of State for Higher Education David Lammy said: “Universities have demonstrated across the country that they are central to the fiscal stimulus that local communities businesses families and young people need. Universities are clearly showing that they can provide a lifeline in these challenging times by offering targeted short courses to adults who have lost their jobs, by connecting small businesses to graduates and university expertise, and by offering graduates the skills and opportunities to set up their own business.

“It is particularly encouraging to see that over 2,000 internships and work placements with universities and local businesses have been approved, which will be an important part of the Government’s proposals to increase the numbers available to students graduating this summer.’

When announcing the successful bidders, Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE’s Chief Executive, said, ‘This shows that higher education can respond swiftly to the needs of the local communities it serves. We set universities and colleges a tough task, giving them just four weeks to develop and submit their proposals, but they responded with enthusiasm and imagination, with 120 bids in total to the Economic Challenge Investment Fund.”

Government funding is providing 27 million, with the rest coming from universities’ own funds, partners such as the Regional Development Agencies and local businesses.

Though the focus is on rapid action and short-term help, universities are also looking to the future and how to help people and businesses succeed when economic recovery gathers pace. Preparing people for the professional skills that will be in demand in the future and supporting development in potential economic growth sectors, such as low-carbon technologies, are key features of a number of the bids.

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