A new initiative has been launched urging businesses to offer paid work experience to students in the IT industry.
The project, called 'Let's Get Paid', is run by e-Placement Scotland, and is a collaboration of three organisations including Edinburgh Napier University. In the first year of its development 1,500 students have registered on the website where employers can advertise work experience placements. Maureen Ronaldson who works on the project told The Journal of its benefits:
"All our placements are paid so students have the experience of a real job situation carrying out work on live projects which better places them for being offered a full-time job in the future, hence the launch of our ‘Let's Get Paid’ initiative which we are promoting to the industry."
Ms Ronaldson also explained that small and medium enterprises (SME’s) find it hard to become involved with students and that this project will improve this situation. Equally Ms Ronaldson pointed to the economic growth in the industry which would mean that employers and universities could tailor degree courses in order to ensure that graduates match what the industry wants.
Ms Ronaldson also stated that feedback from employers so far has been positive. Companies have said that hiring students has been a very positive experience and they will be recommending the programme to other employers. Lorraine Howard works for NN4M, a company who have recently used the project:
“We had support every step of the way from 'e-Placement Scotland’ to make sure we found the right person and were then able to integrate him into the team and give him the guidance he needed. Our experience of working with undergraduates has been excellent because they come ‘fresh’ with no ‘bad habits’ so you can really shape how they work and fit with the ethos and culture of the company.”
Students have been widely complimentary about the project. Alex Macrae was hired as an Apps Developer on placement and has just been offered a full-time job. He found the project did exactly what it was intended to do stating: “...e-Placement Scotland was incredibly important to me and has allowed me to start my career and given me an exciting opportunity. Most importantly of all it has helped me to bridge the gap between University and work”.
Although the 'Let’s Get Paid' initiative has received positive feedback in the short time it has been placing students in work experience roles, Ms Rolandson hopes that it can eventually benefit the Scottish IT industry as a whole: "Our hopes are that the project continues to raise awareness and gain recognition and connect with students and employers throughout Scotland on the benefits of paid placements, and for students to gain the technical and transferable skills to meet the needs of the ITC industry, to ensure companies can expand and become increasingly competitive worldwide."