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Graduates & smaller, local businesses benefit from NEBS funding

When considering careers options after graduating thoughts often go towards Graduate Programmes operated by large, often multinational employers.

For Tom Leslie, a 2016 Design for Industry graduate, he was seeking to start to build his career and has found that opportunity with James Design. James Design is a small business based in Newcastle that designs and makes a wide variety of high quality, made-to-order furniture for business and domestic customers. Before appointing Tom, James Design employed only 2 staff one of which was owner Nick James.Nick James Design

To enable James Design to employ Tom the business secured a 6 month graduate internship grant, part of the Northumbria Enterprise & Business Support project (NEBS) funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Owner Nick James said: “The NEBS project from Northumbria is extremely useful, both for me as a small business able to take on talented staff like Tom, and for the graduates themselves looking for the right opportunity and experience. New graduates will generally have excellent design skills and capabilities, but they may not have had much industry experience. What NEBS provides is some much-needed breathing space for an employer to train and develop a new recruit properly, without the financial pressure to deliver an immediate return. This is far more sustainable and can help build a more secure, long term future for the graduates.”

Commenting on his experience as an intern, Tom said: “It can be a struggle to secure a paid internship position within the creative industries, so the support from NEBS really does open doors. Working at James Design is a fantastic opportunity, allowing me to apply my own skills and develop my own designs. At the same time, it is giving me hands-on business experience - it’s the perfect stepping stone to the real world.”

Victor Ottaway, Graduate Internship Manager, commented “Tom being employed by James Design demonstrates exactly what the graduate internship funding was set up to achieve - a good local employer seeking to benefit from the skills a graduate can bring to the business and a graduate gaining an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and further develop their skills and knowledge.”

“For many current final year students, due to finish in the next couple of months, their focus will be shifting increasingly towards applying for vacancies. We have funding available for 130 small and medium sized businesses in all different kinds of sectors and the roles can cover any degree subject. This gives University alumni who are now business owners and managers the opportunity to benefit their company. Having been a graduate themselves they will understand the skills and attributes of graduates and remember that they too were given an opportunity by an employer to start their career after graduating.”

If you would like more information about Graduate Internships please contact Victor Ottaway, Graduate Internship Manager, via email or on (+44) 191 227 4044. You can also register your interest as a business or a graduate seeking an internship at

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