University of Leicester nurtures networks between small and medium enterprises and local businesses

Posted by er134 at Apr 09, 2014 10:15 AM |
SME Networking Event hosted by the Career Development Service took place at the University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 9 April 2014

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and local businesses throughout the East Midlands were brought together to strengthen networking links at an SME Networking Event hosted by the Career Development Service at the University of Leicester.

The event, which attracted a mix of SMEs, agencies and internal stakeholders, was opened by Bob Athwal, Director of Student Experience and an introduction to how the University works with employers was given by Professor Andy Abbott, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise.

Liz Walkley, Project Manager for Internships and Placements from the Career Development Service at the University of Leicester said: “Providing East Midlands SMEs with a talent pipeline is a key part of our focus at the Career Development Service. Students may seek to go into a small, fast-paced organisation but need help getting connected. Discussions held during the evening provided the right foundation for SMES to work more closely with us to meet their skills needs.”

In her presentation, Liz outlined the importance of internships in developing skills to help students maximise their potential among recruiters.

An overview of the University of Leicester’s new flagship internships programme for 2014/15 - the Undergraduate Promise – was also presented. The scheme, the first of its kind offered by any top-20 higher education institution in the UK, will offer up to 500 paid internships to undergraduates and will pay the equivalent of £12,000 to £16,000 a year pro rata.

The keynote speaker, Michael Davis, CEO of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills provided a thought-provoking insight into the economic health of the East Midlands and skills challenges ahead.

Rob Williams, Managing Director of Leicester-based eCommerce shared a powerful business perspective on the value and impact of taking interns from the University.


He said: “The graduate intern scheme offered by the University has been a great success for Williams Commerce. Our graduates have played a key role in helping us achieve our ambitious business growth targets. We’ve recruited graduates for a number of roles including Software Development and the internship offers a real win-win situation for both parties.


“The support from the team at the University has been fantastic - from shortlisting high quality, relevant candidates, to handling the administrative and contractual side. The process from start to end is fast and efficient. We highly recommend the programme.”

The event finished with a lively debate on reflections on key messages and networking.

Representatives in attendance included the Federation of Small Businesses; the Institute of Directors; the Leicestershire Business Council; the Leicestershire Education Business Company; the Leicester Business Voice; and NBV Enterprise Solutions.

The event provided a platform to promote the University of Leicester as a leading UK university and showcased services and solutions for employers. It was also an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding of topical recruitment and skills challenges and start an ongoing dialogue with businesses.


Notes to Editors:

To find out more about the event and opportunities at the University of Leicester, please contact Liz Walkley at:

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