The Business Enhancement Scheme was set up in response to increasing strains faced by businesses in today’s economic climate and allows recent graduates to work on specific projects, such as the introduction of marketing or the development of IT systems, supported by an academic expert, where extra resource and creative solutions are sought quickly to support business growth.
Beata Olah, a 2009 graduate of Leeds University in Managing Performance, began a 16-week project at Leeds City Council in December 2011 after searching for jobs in events management in the cultural industries through the Graduates Yorkshire service. With academic support from Dr Emma Wood based at the UK Centre for Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan, Beata is developing a cultural evaluation toolkit to capture and report on the impact of cultural activities in Leeds. The model will show the contribution of festivals and events to the local economy and communities and will be integrated into the Council’s future work.
Beata said: “At university I worked on research and evaluation projects focusing on arts and events management. I developed a strong background knowledge of the cultural industries and now I am putting that knowledge into practice. It is very interesting to see how those tools and theories which I was researching during my studies can work in practice in Leeds. I am gaining practical work experience whilst making contacts and, through Leeds Met, I can attend professional development workshops, access online courses and can discuss my progress with my Project Officer.”
Graduates benefit from paid work experience and the opportunity for continued employment following the project. Schemes run from eight weeks to two years and are designed to be flexible around the employer. For all schemes of six months or longer the business pays only the direct employment-related costs with Leeds Metropolitan funding the cost of academic support and administration.
Simon Baldwin, Senior Business Development Manager at the University, commented: “Universities have the ability to stimulate private sector growth and become a catalyst for business development. I have heard said many times, especially by small businesses owners, they would like to employ more staff but can’t afford the time, cope with the bureaucracy or take the risk of hiring someone now that they will have to let go a few months later. The Business Enhancement Scheme minimises risk and red-tape for employers, enabling them to grow their workforce and business.”