Talent exchange offers opportunities

Work experience opportunities are on the rise across the region following the launch of a new scheme for students with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

The region’s SMEs and students are benefiting from Talent Exchange, a unique work experience initiative at Robert Gordon University (RGU) which provides organisations easy and tailored access to the skills and knowledge of students.

Students are putting their learning into action in work experience opportunities which are designed to offer flexible solutions to a business including one-off challenges, short-term projects and placements of varying lengths.

The initiative, which has been established with funding from the Scottish Funding Council, is aimed at organisations looking for help with a specific business challenge such as a marketing strategy, social media support, website development, events, IT solutions, production design and research and analysis.

A number of SMEs have engaged with Talent Exchange including well control training specialist Aberdeen Drilling School, which was looking for expertise in graphics and design.

Aspiring graphic designer Lucy Stewart, 26, who has recently graduated from RGU with a degree in Multimedia Development, spent a year at Aberdeen Drilling School creating interactive and 3D simulation graphics for the company’s learning materials.

Lucy Stewart

Lucy said: “My experience of working with Aberdeen Drilling School has been fantastic.  I’ve learned a lot and it’s really given me a great insight into what it would be like to work in the oil and gas industry.

“Working at Aberdeen Drilling School has provided me with an opportunity to use the expertise I’ve gained at university such as animation, graphic design and coding, and it has allowed me to develop my team-working skills.

“I really enjoyed working for a smaller company as the team is very close and there is more interaction with and exposure to senior management. I was also given a lot of feedback and people seemed to really take notice of my work which was a confidence boost.

“I feel this project has benefited me as it has given me invaluable experience in the industry and it’s allowed me to work on my soft skills as well as develop the skills I’ve learnt at university.”

Not only has the placement provided Lucy with an opportunity to develop her skills, but it has also got her thinking about options for her career after she finishes her studies.

She added: “The placement has opened up my eyes to the options for graphic designers and it has got me thinking about what career direction I want to take.

“In the future I’d like to continue with my graphic design career and perhaps start my own business focusing mainly on 3D graphics.”

Phil Burge, chief operating officer at Aberdeen Drilling School, said: “We were looking for additional expertise in graphic design with specialist knowledge in the technology that would enable us to produce our desired training material and so we thought that engaging with students who are currently studying the subject would be a good solution – and it was.

“We took on two students who were fantastic and exceeded our expectations. They were very skilled and worked on their projects autonomously with very little guidance, and were able to bring new ideas which further allowed us to expand the scope of the different projects we were working on.

“I believe the students have benefited as it has given them the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to a work environment.

“The fact that we’re a small company is also a benefit as the students get more exposure and have more scope to progress the project themselves  –  I think the autonomy is important in terms of their own development.”

For more information on Talent Exchange, visit www.rgu.ac.uk/talentexchange or to talk to a member of the project team about a work experience opportunity e-mail talentexchange@rgu.ac.uk or call 01224 262046.

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