HIE provides new graduate boost to Outer Hebrides

Clockwise: Barnaby Ashton, Eilidh Macdonald, Mairi Voinot, Calum Roden and Cara Forbes

FOURTEEN graduates have been recruited at businesses across the Outer Hebrides over the last few weeks, through a programme funded and delivered by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Graduate Support Programme helps companies in the region by offering 12-month, well paid work experience placements in key sectors that span a wide variety of industries. It supports organisations to drive innovation and recovery following the pandemic and provides graduates with much-needed experience to advance their careers.

With the help of the programme, Calum Roden started a new role as recording studio assistant engineer at Black Bay Studio after relocating from Lanark to the Isle of Lewis. 

Calum brings his skills and enthusiasm to the small team in Great Bernera and will be working on studio activity with owner Pete Fletcher, including setting up and operating studio equipment in recording sessions. 

North Uist local, Cara Forbes recently took on the role of digital marketing graduate at North Uist Distillery. She graduated with an HND in Fine Art from the University of the Highlands and Islands in 2019. 

Cara lives on a working croft on the island and is a professional photographer. As part of her role, she will be developing and implementing a digital marketing strategy for the next stage of growth at the distillery.

In the Isle of Barra, Mairi Voinot was appointed as a tourism development officer with Bùth Bharraigh – a community shop and hub in Castlebay. Originally from Lochgilphead, she moved to the island to take up the post where she will be looking at how tourism services provided by the business, can be developed. She will also be exploring other initiatives that can help make tourism work for the island community and visitors alike. 

Eilidh Macdonald hails from Back in Lewis, has a first-class degree in International business management and language and was previously employed as a communications officer at Bòrd na Gàidhlig. In her new role as a project co-ordinator at Isle of Harris Distillers she will coordinate an exciting project to help the company prepare for the market introduction of its single malt whisky, The Hearach. 

The project will involve working across all parts of the business, from operations to storytelling, to ensure the success of this long-awaited launch when the time comes.

Barnaby Ashton, originally from Cornwall, moved to Scotland when he was eight, spending much of his adult life in Shetland. He has always been passionate about the natural world and obtained a master’s degree in Ecology and Conservation with the aim of restarting his career to align with this interest. He settled in Lewis two years ago.

The goal in his new role as junior ecologist at Lewis-based WI Marine and Environment, which is in the process of changing its name to Atlantic58, is to expand and build upon his existing foundation of ecological knowledge. He is keen to learn and develop the full range of skills required for ecological consultancy. He works both in the office in Gress and from his home in Borve, where he lives with his wife, newborn son and many surfboards.

Joanna Peteranna, interim area manager for the Outer Hebrides area team, said: “This popular graduate programme is an excellent initiative, which offers financial support for businesses and social enterprises. The support enables businesses to bring new, eager graduates into the team, providing them with the opportunity to take on a specific project. 

“We are delighted to bring more skilled local employment to the Outer Hebrides. We are really pleased that the positions filled quickly with graduates who are keen to be a part of our island communities.”

The scheme is closed for applications. Positions were available to all graduates that finished their studies in the last four years and there was no age restriction. 

Other businesses that have recruited graduates through the programme in the Outer Hebdrides are Harris Tweed Scotland, Sandwick Bay Candles, Hebridean Spa, An Lanntair, Studio Vans, Ceòlas, Cala Hotels Ltd and Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn.

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