'Graduate to Export' programme helps NI firms find the staff and skills they need to go global

Wed 21 Jul 2021
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
IOE News

graduate to export

A new educational programme in Northern Ireland, teaching graduates the skills of international trade, has been praised by participating businesses for supporting them to achieve their exporting ambitions.

The ‘Graduate to Export’ programme is funded and managed by Invest NI and delivered by the University of Ulster in partnership with the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT).

The first cohort of students have just graduated following an awards ceremony yesterday (20 July).

‘Extremely beneficial’

The programme involved the delivery of a master’s degree at the University of Ulster to recent graduates who had just been recruited by fast-growth companies in Northern Ireland. 

Anne Beggs, the director of international trade and investment at Invest NI, said that the skills gained by students on the course “are exactly what Northern Irish businesses need and what the economy needs”.

Kevin Shakespeare, director of the IOE&IT Academy, said the “standard of the learners was impressive” and that it was a pleasure to teach them.

‘Impressive’ cohort

Beggs also said that Invest NI had been delighted to partner with the University of Ulster and IOE&IT on delivering the programme.

“The feedback has been that it’s been extremely beneficial for both the companies and graduates that have been involved, and indeed at a wider business and economy level too,” she said.


Beverley Copeland, senior executive for organisational development at Ulster Carpets, one of the businesses who recruited graduates on the programme, said it had delivered a “great blend of education, training and practical hands-on work”.

“What attracted us to the Invest NI graduate programme was that it was focussed purely on exports,” she said.

“With funding from Invest NI, educational support from the University of Ulster and training support from IOE&IT, this was an attractive way for us to complete our market research projects,” she added.

More to do

Shakespeare added that the Graduate to Export programme was an important example of how education in international trade skills and processes can contribute to a business’ growth.

He said the IOE&IT “continues to be committed to delivering practical, hands-on export support and qualifications” both at home and abroad.

“We’re currently doing work with colleges in Northern Ireland to deliver a qualification in international trade, customs and logistics, while delivering educational programmes globally, including across Africa,” he added.