The SIC’s graduate placement scheme has become the latest victim of the local authority’s serious financial problems.
Up until now the scheme, which has been running since the turn of the century, has provided an opportunity for newly-qualified students to get a first year’s experience in the workplace.
It had been advertised as usual this year, with the council intending to support five 12-month placements at a cost of around £125,000. But with belts getting ever tighter, the scheme has now been put on hold and the applicants advised accordingly.
SIC political leader Gary Robinson confirmed the decision had been taken because of the need to make savings wherever possible, though he does hope the scheme can be reinstated in the future.
Mr Robinson said the council would be speaking to figures within local industry to glean whether any businesses are willing to pick up the scheme this year.
“The reason is just the financial situation that we’re in just now,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing that has been good in the past and, if we can get to a more settled position with our finances, I’m sure it’s something we’d want to pick up again. The intention would certainly be to revisit it.
“We tend, with the graduates, to basically give them a project to work on. In the present climate, officers had looked at seeing if they could use the scheme as a spend-to-save in some way, so that we could better justify doing it, but unfortunately that didn’t stack up.”
College board chairman Drew Ratter said putting the scheme on hold temporarily was one thing, but as a “long-term phenomenon”, he felt providing employment for graduates in Shetland was “extremely important”.
He said: “Retaining graduates is going to be extremely important, or getting ones to come from elsewhere. Having clever people doing stuff in your community is a very good thing.”