This paper aims to explore graduate training through SME‐based project work. The views and behaviours of graduates are examined along with the perceptions of the SMEs and academic partner institutions charged with training graduates.
The data are largely qualitative and derived from the experiences of graduates, company supervisors and University of Ulster staff involved in projects during 2001‐2007 when 140 FUSION projects were undertaken across the island of Ireland.
More job opportunities, changing job values and work ethic impact upon the uptake and success of FUSION projects. Employers, especially within growing SMEs, have adopted a learner‐centred approach in order to maximise the benefits of the project for both the graduate and the company. Graduate development programmes continue to strengthen university‐to‐business links, which in turn ensures graduate output meets the needs of industry.
Data collected throughout the term of FUSION projects are reported; further analyses of stakeholder views post‐project completion would provide further insight into the longer‐term effects of graduate training upon career progression.
This analysis proffers graduate reflections on “work‐based learning”. It serves key reminders for evaluating satisfaction with graduate development programmes presenting two key implications, pathways for better preparing graduates/SMEs and routes for enhancing the benefits of such projects.
The paper focuses on research that seeks to enhance graduate training and placement experiences within SMEs.
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