Graduate potential


CUC business support manager Marian Bond explains the opportunities of tapping into the Duchy’s graduate potential

It can be difficult enough to manage the day job, let alone put aside enough time for development projects. But if you don’t, you know you risk being left behind.

When you’ve got a plan and you resource for it, it happens. Yet increasing headcount, and attracting, paying and retaining experienced qualified people who will focus and actually deliver is a big financial commitment, let alone risk.

This is where a graduate can make a real difference to your business. Having someone with fresh expertise working with you can create the space in your business to devote energy to cracking a key business challenge. Luckily there are a number of schemes out there to help you bring in a graduate at reduced risk, one of which might well be right for you.

You may well have heard of the Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) graduate placement scheme. This is all about building capability in your business to help you grow. Placements usually last for a year and are backed up with specialist mentoring support, business skills training and the possibility of a wage subsidy to ease the burden.

In more specialist situations, where you’re looking to give your company a strategic advantage, perhaps through product or design innovation, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) might be the answer.

Not the catchiest of titles and a more involved application process, but in the right situation the payback can more than justify the effort. KTPs typically last two years and now there are Shorter KTPs spanning 10-40 weeks.

They are subsidised and cost from around £400 per week or £19k per annum. In return, you will be honing your own technical staff and combining your expertise with that of the graduate and their academic mentor. And you may be able to gain access to the R&D facilities at their university.

As a national scheme, KTPs can be set up with any participating university with relevant expertise. Universities of Exeter and Plymouth have a number of KTPs running in Cornwall, with outstanding companies such as A&P Falmouth and recent Cornwall Business Awards winners, Bude-based Zoeftig.

KTPs are also available in specialist areas such as marine renewable energy through PRIMaRE – the Peninsula Research Institute for Marine Renewable Energy.

For shorter projects that you need to get out of the way, one of the new Internships (a type

of short graduate placement) could be a good way to go. They usually come with a Government wage subsidy and last around eight weeks, but you’ll need to be quick because the funding for them won’t be around for much longer.

Or perhaps you have a creative challenge to overcome, in which case some free post graduate level consultancy in areas such as creative advertising and textile design could be accessed through the Creative Enterprise Cornwall scheme at University College Falmouth.

You don’t need to be conversant with the small print about all these schemes (and I haven’t touched on them all here) – your Business Link advisor will be able to suggest appropriate solutions, or if you

already have contact with one the Unlocking Cornish Potential team, they can also run through all the options with you. If in doubt, I would be only too happy to point you in the right direction.