Published in the Scotsman, 15/2/11
Now is not a good time to be a graduate. The economic crisis has left more than a million 16-24 year-olds unemployed in the UK, with graduate unemployment up by 44 per cent in 12 months.
One answer to this economic and social challenge is an increase in the volume and variety of intern opportunities for our graduates. It is vital that graduates are given the chance to gain suitable work experience and the opportunity to develop the kind of workplace skills that employers need. Sadly, an accessible internship culture does not exist in Scotland.
The importance of paid, well-structured and accessible internships cannot be understated if we are going to achieve social mobility, promote economic growth and avoid a lost generation of youth.
That is why my organisation set up a new programme – Adopt an Intern, with financial support from the Scottish Government. This innovative programme is intended to help Scotland's graduates into paid internships using the centre's network of cross-sector member organisations.
After the first year of operation, the initiative is bringing energetic new talent into organisations, big and small, as well as providing young people with the opportunity to take their first step on the career path.
Feedback from the public, private and voluntary sector employers has been tremendous as they benefit from access to a talent pool of individuals with graduate-level education, adding real value to their business.
We aim to embed a vibrant intern culture across Scotland, creating a route to graduate employment. All organisations – small, medium and large, public and private, voluntary and charity – can play a positive part in securing the first opportunity for graduates who would otherwise be denied the chance to demonstrate their potential. These graduates are self-starters bursting with new ideas; they're keen to make their mark.
Joy Lewis, CSPP Intern Programme Manager