Belfast Telegraph

Business placement aims to fill Gap for the unemployed

By Heather McGarrigle

More than 250 unemployed graduates in Northern Ireland have gained valuable work experience through a business placement scheme.

Business in the Community's Graduate Acceleration Programme (Gap) has been running for around 18 months, linking university leavers with businesses.

More than 250 graduates have now been placed at a variety of firms and not-for-profit organisations across Northern Ireland.

Lynne Tinkler of Gap said: "Some of our graduates are almost unrecognisable six months down the line from the deflated and uninspired individuals who first join the programme.

"GAP is giving them the skills, experience and confidence to tackle the world of work head on."

Kieran Mulholland, a Gap graduate, completed an operational framework officer placement with the Henderson Group in Newtownabbey.

Kieran said the placement motivated him and provided the routine he needed to be in the right frame of mind for job seeking.

He said: "The placement itself has vastly expanded the jobs I am qualified to apply for due to the finance, administration and other experience I now possess.

"From my first meeting, through correspondence and workplace visits, the team members from Business in the Community were genuinely passionate about helping people get to work."

Gerard O'Hare, Chair of Gap adds: "Gap has a consistent into employment rate of over 50%. By supporting graduates to get the experience they need, businesses are protecting a valuable local resource.

"We want to keep and use our graduate talent in Northern Ireland instead of pushing them to look for opportunities further afield."