Small businesses in Chesterfield and Derbyshire can receive up to £7,000 in funding and support to recruit remotely-based student and graduate talent to their workforce.
The rise in remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic means the University is now able to work with more businesses than ever before, including those who previously might not have had the office space to support a graduate.
The opportunities are supplied by the GRADS for D2N2 project which is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and it is part of the ESF High-Level Skills programme.
ESF supports activities to extend employment opportunities and develop a skilled workforce. The GRADS for D2N2 project is delivered through the University of Derby as part of the High Level Skills consortium which also includes Nottingham Trent University, Derby College, Nottingham College, and Nottingham City Council.
Chesterfield small business operator Rebecca Erskine, owner of Yellow Bird Marketing and Communications, recounted the advantages of working alongside the University after taking on a graduate, Maciej Rus and current University of Derby student, Freya Padmore.
Rebecca said: “Recently i took on two interns from the University of Derby. I think it is actually important that the University, no matter its name, supports businesses over the county of Derbyshire and that is the benefit of this particular programme.
“I think that whenever people are hard-working, they deserve real opportunity in everyday life. Very often there are things that take a seat on the back-burner as far as your business is concerned.
“Like a small business owner, obviously what earns the money is the billable work which has to be your priority, but it can’t be at the expense of business development or promoting your business so the interns coming into the project have really helped me make sure that I am looking at every element of the business.
“Remote working has given me the perfect opportunity to obtain the candidates that I really wanted for that project, regardless of where they’re based.”
Freya said: “Having experience that I can talk about in interviews and my applications gives me just that competitive edge compared to another students who haven’t had any experience yet.
“I’m your really small team now so we can really bounce ideas off each other. It’s just given me a much better idea about what I want to do when I graduate.
“I don’t need to commute to work anymore. I can literally just sit at my desk and everything’s there that I need. I can literally login whenever I want to, finish working after i want to, just based on after i feel like working.”
Support available to SMEs includes organisations needs assessments, talent grants, graduate internships, Employability and Apprenticeship workshops, curriculum co-design and more.