Thumbs-up from employers
The Year in Industry programme has two-way benefits, according to Ian Brown, development and environmental manager at Zeneca, the Grangemouth-based pharmaceuticals and speciality chemicals company.
"We would look to actively use this as an extended interview, to assess what we see as very motivated people who are primarily interested in coming into industry and have that as a clear remit at the end of their university course," Mr Brown says.
"It would be good experience from the students' point of view, too, hopefully motivating them into coming back into industry at the end of their degree. We are unlikely to offer jobs at the end but if a student showed good understanding, enjoyed the job and looked capable, we would look to help financially in their university careers. Potentially they could be offered a contract subject to getting a reasonable qualification."
Martin Murray of Thurso has been working at Zeneca for the past month He hopes to study chemical engineering at Heriot-Watt. "I like the environment and want to work in pharmaceuticals or in the oil industry," he says. "I feel that this job will help my communications as well as giving me the chance, and the responsibility, of doing experiments on my own."
David Weir already has an unconditional acceptance for a mechanical and electrical engineering course at Strathclyde University. He has been working for the past four weeks at Rosti, an injection moulding company at Larkhall, and already feels that he is more in touch with the world.
Malcolm Little of Rosti agrees, citing the unsuitability of many graduates applying for jobs with no work experience. "For any young person to get a year's practical experience before going to university is good from our point of view and makes their studies much more meaningful for them," Mr Little says.
"They will be able to relate the theory to the reality, something many graduates lack. In at least half of the cases, they have no point of reference. "