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Eight graduates have been recruited in the Outer Hebrides over recent months, through the second round of a programme funded and delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Graduate Support Programme helps companies in the region by offering 12-month, well-paid work experience placements.

A previous graduate programme delivered by HIE that ran throughout 2021-22 saw ten graduates out of 14 retained by their employers at the end of their placements.  The programme supports organisations to drive innovation and recovery following the pandemic and gives graduates much-needed experience to advance their careers.

Alison Campbell Clark, originally from Oban, studied Gaelic language and culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. After graduating, she was employed as a Gaelic development officer in Glasgow for Comunn na Gàidhlig.  Thanks to the Graduate Placement Programme, Alison has relocated to the Isle of Lewis, where her mother is from, to take on the role of business development officer at Astar Media, a Stornoway-based business working to deliver projects across the Gaelic sector, including consultations, events, communications support as well as running the successful FilmG short film competition on behalf of the Gaelic media organisation MG ALBA. 

Alison said: “The Graduate Placement Programme has provided me with many new opportunities, both personally and professionally. Without this programme, I wouldn't have been able to move home to Lewis or had the chance to join the Astar team. Since starting with Astar, I have explored new aspects of my professional development, and I'm loving life both in Lewis and at Astar.” 

Andrew Campbell graduated in media studies from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and is now living back in Stornoway. In his role as a graduate marketing coordinator at An Lanntair, his duties include the planning and coordination of marketing duties in the arts centre including writing and producing digital content.

Sharath Chedalu comes from the city of Hyderabad in India. His studies started in New Dehli, where he studied engineering, then to London, where he successfully completed a MSc in construction management. Shortly after graduating, Sharath moved to the Outer Hebrides in pursuit of some work experience to complement his academic studies.  He is now employed by Lewis Builders as a trainee civil engineering technician and is currently working between their office and construction sites on the West Side.  Sharath is dealing with setting out from co-ordinates, levelling on site, dealing with health and safety, dealing with sub-contractors – all in all, a really hands on construction experience.

Eriskay-born and raised, Kathryn MacInnes, returned home to the island at the start of the pandemic after living in Glasgow.  With an interest in Eriskay's heritage, she volunteers with Comann Each nan Eilean (The Eriskay Pony Society) and joined Comann Eachdraidh Eirisgeidh through the graduate programme in 2022. In her role, she helps with the Ionad Eilean na h-Òige project – a project to redevelopment the old school on the island. 
 Kathryn will be involved in all aspects of bringing this community led development to fruition, creating a community hub where residents and visitors to the island can socialise while learning about the area’s rich heritage and culture.

Mary Holmes moved to Uist in early 2023 to work in Benbecula with Studio Vans as a Designer and Maker. Mary is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who has recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an undergraduate degree in architecture. Supporting the studio’s growth, she is closely engaged with the development, refinement and fabrication of Studio Vans’ modular campervan conversions for mobile, low-carbon and low-impact travel.

Joanna Peteranna, area manager for the Outer Hebrides area team, said: “This popular graduate programme is such an excellent initiative and offers financial support to help employers to bring in enthusiastic and skilled graduates keen to implement their learning in the workplace. It is encouraging to see the graduates become part of our communities and use their learning to grow their skills in developing specific projects, which will help our communities to thrive.”

The scheme is now closed for applications. Other businesses that have recruited graduates through this round of the Graduate Support programme in the Outer Hebrides are Sandwick Bay Candles, Steinish Marine and Kenman Holdings Limited.