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From a graduate placement to a graduate job: connecting SMEs to NTU's talent pool

A look at how NTU are connecting our graduates with local SMEs

This support is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund

Through the GRADS for D2N2 project*, Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire with a package of free and subsidised support to help them identify their skills and talent needs, and benefit from graduate talent in the region.

Earlier this year, we worked with a local business to subsidise a graduate placement, and caught up with them to see how they're getting on.

Hilary Campton - Director at V Formation
Hilary Campton, director at V Formation

V Formation – the employer

V Formation is a nine-person marketing and PR agency based in Nottingham city centre's BioCity. Set up 12 years ago, the company work with a range of a clients from across the life sciences, high-tech and professional services sectors.

V Formation began its relationship with NTU around two years ago, having taken part in other initiatives such as the Innovation Community Lab – a programme looking to develop ambitious new starters and aspiring managers in SMEs.

That conversation was picked back up in late-2018 with the offer of a European Social Fund (ESF) subsidised package of support that included six weeks of funding to take on an NTU graduate placement. They also later went on to access a further six-weeks of NTU funding through the FutureYou programme.

Hilary Campton, director at V Formation said: "This is the first time we've taken on a graduate from NTU and would highly recommend it. Working with NTU has opened us up to a really good pool of talent.

"NTU are switched on with business engagement and it's really well linked to the academic side of the university, meaning graduates are both knowledgeable and work-ready.

"In terms of support, the funding enabled us to offer a six-week placement followed by another six weeks, which works out really well as it allowed a longer time for both Beckie and the business to get used to each other and form a more informed opinion about whether it's a suitable fit for us both."

Beckie Chaddock - PR Intern at V Formation
Beckie Chaddock, PR and Marketing Assistant at V Formation

Beckie Chaddock – the graduate

Beckie came to NTU in 2015 to study English and Creative Writing. Initially drawn to the university after hearing good things from friends who studied here, our commitment to sustainability was also a big selling point.

Beckie's course – as with the majority of other NTU degrees – encouraged vocational experience. This led to a three-month placement at the National Justice Museum during her second year in which she contributed content to the recently rebranded museum's blog in order to drive online traffic.

After graduation in 2018, she was made aware of the opportunity at V Formation by the university's Employability team. After going through the recruitment process, she started her funded graduate placement in February 2019.

Beckie has since taken on a wide range of responsibilities, including PR and media liaison, working with photographers and videographers, and development of content for client websites, blogs, and social media.

Beckie said: "Since starting the graduate placement I've learned so much, from really job-specific skills such as how to write and format an effective press release to the softer skills such as collaboration and working in a team.

"I have been given the opportunity to try lots of different things, but I'm most proud of being part of a research project looking at women in business and the challenges they face. I was involved right from the start of my placement and have seen it through to the end, helping to write the final report. It's currently with the designers producing the final version, which I can't wait to see."

Looking ahead

At the end of Beckie's graduate placement, V Formation have offered her a permanent contract which she started on 9 May 2019.

Hilary said: "Beckie has been a breath of fresh air to the business and gets involved with everything we suggest. She's very quickly become a highly-valued member of the team and we can see a really clear career path for her here at V Formation."

Beckie said: "I'm really enjoying working within the team and collaborating with the others on my work. Going forward, I'm now looking forward to getting to a point where I have my own clients to manage."

Find out more about GRADS for D2N2

To find out more about the ESF High Level Skills programme and the wider support that NTU can offer, visit our website.

You can also contact us via any of the below channels:

* The GRADS for D2N2 project is part-funded by the European Social Fund and is part of the ESF High Level Skills programme. The programme is delivered by NTU as part of the High Level Skills consortium which also includes Derby College, Nottingham College, the University of Derby, and Nottingham City Council.