Employment and Learning MInister Minister Danny Kennedy has met two University of Ulster graduates who have come through Graduate Acceleration Programme (GAP).
GAP has been developed in a direct response by a partnership including the University of Ulster from Business in the Community, the Department for Employment and Learning and QUB to tackle graduate unemployment in Northern Ireland.
With research released in early November by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu) which put graduate unemployment at its highest level for 17 years, the work of GAP has never been more relevant.
The Minister said: “I was pleased to meet Claire and Christopher today and learn of their experiences as they progressed through the GAP programme. This initiative was established under my Department’s Steps to Work programme and it is hugely encouraging to see the real changes that our partnership is making to the lives and aspirations of our graduates.
“The GAP Programme is another example of my Department’s ongoing commitment to helping people back into work and I look forward to hearing of many more success stories through GAP.”
University of Ulster graduate Christopher Maitland – now employed by Citi – adds: “Early this year, my outlook and job prospects seemed very glum. I was referred onto GAP by my local Jobs and Benefits office and then met with the GAP team.
"My placement, organised through GAP, provided the much needed work experience which boosted my employability skills and I am thrilled to now be employed full-time with Citi. I really feel that even though we are in the midst of tough economic times, opportunities do still exist and the GAP experience has helped open doors for me.”
GAP currently has over 400 placement opportunities available for graduates accessible via www.gapni.com ; 145 graduates have been placed with organisations across Northern Ireland and on average over 45% of the graduates now through their 26 week placement have gained employment.
If you are an unemployed graduate and interested in the programme or, if you are a business with graduate opportunities, please give the GAP team a call on (028) 9046 0606 or contact your local Jobs and Benefits office. To find out more visit www.gapni.com .