[Top row, left to right: Brendan McCarthy, graduate, Datactics; Steve Harper, executive director international and skills, Invest NI; Ciaran Mulgrew, board member, Invest NI; Nicholas Blenkinsop academy trade & customs specialist, IOE&IT
Lower row, left to right: Dr Caroline Morrison, Ulster University; Orla Rafferty, graduate, MFC Sports; Rachel McBride, graduate, Kinsetu; Kevin Shakespeare, director of strategic projects and international development, IOE&IT]
Last Friday (27 January) saw the next generation of Northern Ireland exporters and traders receive Masters’ degrees for completing the Graduate to Export scheme.
The scheme is managed by Invest NI and involves learners completing a Master’s degree, while at the same time undertaking industry placements with a growing Northern Ireland exporting business.
A learning partnership
The Master’s degree is run by University of Ulster, with the Institute of Exports and International Trade (IOE&IT) leading on two modules - Finance of International Trade and International Logistics and Purchasing.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, which was hosted at the Invest NI offices in Belfast, Kevin Shakespeare, IOE&IT’s director of strategic projects and international development, commented:
“I am so pleased to see this second cohort of learners graduate with such strong grades. It is always a pleasure to meet the young people who are entering the profession. This scheme, with its combination of practical, in-country experience and the academic rigour of the degree, provides them with an excellent foundation from which to launch a career.”
Learners from cohort three, which is underway now, were also present at the event.
Helping business growth in Northern Ireland
The Graduate to Export programme helps local companies achieve growth by providing financial assistance to recruit a graduate for 18 months. It is fully funded by Invest Northern Ireland and connects Northern Ireland businesses with recent graduates.
Lasting 18 months, successful graduates spend the first six months immersed within a Northern Ireland company getting to know the business, learning about the company's products and services, and gaining invaluable knowledge into the strategic direction of the business.
The last 12 months of the programme are spent on a placement in the company's export market, identifying a specific market research project aligned to the company's strategic marketing plan.
The graduation ceremony included a short prize-giving ceremony, with The Professor Jim Bell Award for the top student, sponsored by Ulster University, going to Rachel McBride and the Invest NI Award, for top export market development project, having joint winners in Brendan McCarthy and Orla Rafferty.