14 May 2015

An independent study into the first 50 RISE graduate internships found the programme is supporting business growth as well as graduate employment in Sheffield.  The first 50 placements generated an economic impact of £1.34m *GVA (Gross Value Added) for the city economy. This represents a high return on investment: every £1 investment creates £5.71 in the local economy. The scheme also boasts an intern to permanent position conversion rate of 85 per cent, which outperforms many other graduate internship initiatives.

The majority of SMEs (small to medium size enterprises) stated they would either not have employed a graduate in the absence of RISE or would have been unable to find the quality of graduate placed by the scheme at this time. Furthermore, the study found the scheme had engendered change in the perceptions of SMEs and graduates, breaking down the attitudinal barriers to graduate recruitment that had long since been recognised as contributing factors to the under utilisation of graduate talent by SMEs.

Since the research, carried out by ekosgen (an independent economic research consultancy), commissioned by Sheffield City Council last year, RISE has gone from strength to strength, recruiting a further four rounds of graduates into SMEs and announcing its seventh intake to commence in June; RISE 7. The most recent data to be released by RISE has elevated these initial findings to new heights and with it, Sheffield’s growing reputation as a ’Graduate City’. With 130 graduates now in employment after RISE internships, 104 SMEs partaking and an employment conversion rate for completed internships in excess of 85 per cent, the economic impact of this unique scheme has started to attract national attention as other cities look for ways to retain graduate talent.

Cllr Leigh Bramall Sheffield City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business Skills and Development, said: “RISE is a hot topic at the moment with core cities across the country looking to this Sheffield-born initiative as a viable solution to what is being described as the ‘brain drain’.  Analysts have identified a worrying trend of graduates leaving their university cities and moving to London to find employment. Yorkshire is the only region outside of London that is bucking this trend currently but in 2012 a survey found that three quarters of our Sheffield City Region businesses did not employ graduates and did not intend to over the coming three years.

“Ensuring there is a higher proportion of graduate-level jobs within Sheffield is key to securing business growth and economic stability in our region and working with university partners and the business community Sheffield is tackling this challenge head on.

“The impact of RISE on economic growth is twofold – it helps graduates stay in Sheffield and it helps our business community attract the skills they need for growth.”

RISE is a collaboration between city partners; Creative Sheffield (the economic development arm of Sheffield City Council), Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Sheffield and the private sector.

Conor Moss, Director of Education and Employer Partnerships at Sheffield Hallam University, describes the importance of this partnership working: “RISE demonstrates the successes that can be achieved when academia and industry collaborate and innovate to help businesses find the best talent and our students find excellent graduate opportunities within Sheffield.”

Steve Fish Careers Service Director at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted that Sheffield graduates are securing employment with local businesses through RISE and are therefore helping to support Sheffield’s economic development. Retaining this talent in the city is a critical success factor of the scheme and the economic impact report demonstrates this delivery.”

RISE is designed specifically to meet the needs of SMEs locally. Patrick Gulliver, Director, ekosgen said “As a business growth intervention RISE makes a distinct impact in the city, providing SMEs with access to a highly skilled labour pool.”  In addition to managing the recruitment and placement process, RISE provides six months on-going support and a wage subsidy of £1000 for employers to use with their first newly appointed graduate.

Businesses with less than 250 employees and their own premises in Sheffield City Region seeking the best graduate interns to meet their business needs are to contact Rebecca@gradconsult.co.uk

RISE Case Study

Business: Eadon Consulting

Name:  Director James Hill

RISE graduates taken: four

Sheffield Hallam University graduate: Rizwan Ali

Background: Eadon Consulting specialise in the design of complex machines and structures. This 15 person strong team, based in Sheffield Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Park, was set up in 2009 by engineers James Hill, David Price and Michael Thorogood.  Eadon Consulting has worked with the RISE project since it launched in 2012, taking four graduates and employing three on a permanent basis. Their latest success story is engineer Rizwan Ali who joined the team in October 2014.

Why did you employ a graduate?

We operate within a very specialist field and as such recruitment has always been a challenge. We are different to other engineering consultancy firms in that we go beyond developing design concepts for our customers. We also produce specification drawings which means our products are more than just a vision; they are ready to be manufactured.  Our people need to be high fliers when it comes to understanding engineering theory but they also need to have a desire to learn about the manufacturing methods which dictate the viability of designs working in production. For this we need talented, skilled people with an enthusiasm and thirst for more in-depth industry knowledge. Graduate internships are the solution for businesses like ours.

Why did you decide to go through RISE?

In the past it was common for engineers to undergo some form of apprenticeship as part of their formal training. In today’s world most engineers leave university having really enjoyed the academic side; in which case they often follow an employment path that allows them to specialise in calculations. Or, having developed a love of the creative aspects, they follow a design route into the workplace.  We wanted an internship because this would allow us to marry these two skill sets with the more traditional in-house training of manufacturing methods and ‘drafting’, something which we just wouldn’t be able to achieve in the same way by employing a graduate without a period of mentorship.

How did the RISE process work for you?

I can’t advocate it enough. We’ve done it four times now and continue to be impressed by the RISE recruitment process and the calibre of the candidates we meet at final interview. There is the added incentive of a salary contribution during the first six months of the internship and of course the soft skills that graduates are taught by the RISE recruiters are essential when supporting graduates from the academic to the workplace environment; something that many businesses just don’t have the resource to invest in.

What roles are your graduates doing?

We’ve employed three engineers off the back of their RISE internships. Rizwan is currently working as a ‘draughtsman’ producing manufacturing drawings for our customers, which has completely reinvigorated this much needed specialism and will enable us to provide our customers with so much more than our competitors for longer.  People rarely leave University with the skill set to produce these types of drawings and yet firms like ours still have experienced draughtsman who can mentor and train graduates in this area of expertise.

What have your graduates added to your business?

They make up a substantial proportion of our workforce. Their continued energy and innovation has allowed us to grow and expand our offering year on year.

Would you recommend RISE?

Yes. And I do all the time. I honestly believe that we need schemes like RISE to secure our future. Engineering is a rapidly evolving industry but we must not lose the skill set and knowledge of our most experienced practitioners. Internships, much like apprenticeships, enable us to train the next generation of engineers so that knowledge is advanced rather than exchanged. It bridges the gap between academia and working practice .

Graduate Rizwan; how would you sum up your RISE experience?

I think it is wonderful that the two Sheffield Universities are united with Sheffield City Council in a scheme like this. It demonstrates that their responsibility to their students doesn’t start and end with their enrolment on a course but that they want to see us adding value to professions like engineering and hopefully one day, we’ll be the people shaping its future.