Sixteen employers from across Northern Ireland are strengthening global links through an international exchange scheme.
Employers including Seagate, CDE Global and Canyon Europe Ltd, have recently taken on 22 international students through IAESTE, (the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience), a programme managed by the British Council.
Over the course of the summer and beyond, these students, from science and technical disciplines, will complete specialist projects related to their university degrees. In exchange, 16 students from Northern Ireland will travel to 16 countries worldwide, including China, Hungary and Switzerland.
This is the first year the manufacturing firm Canyon Europe Ltd, has taken part in the global STEM scheme.
Based in Newtownabbey, the company trades in 50 markets across the world and is a global leader in the design and manufacture of high quality and innovative dispensing solutions.
Speaking about the programme at a reception at Riddle Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, was the Managing Director, Hugh Ross.
He said: “Canyon Europe is always striving to bring new people and ideas into the organisation and with a programme like IAESTE, you can make use of international talent from across the world. If you need set skills for specific projects they can provide that, giving a fresh approach on how to do business and tackle difficult issues.
Through the programme, Brazilian student, Thiago Parreiras de Sousa, who is in his fifth year studying for a degree in Materials Engineering, will spend a year working at the firm on computational fluid dynamics.
Mr Ross said: “Thiago has only been here for two months, but so far has proved an asset to the team. His work is very high-level, and something our technical team have very little experience in, so it’s been really beneficial to us — so much so, we would love to offer him a full time position once his contract ends.”
“For us, taking part in a new programme was a leap of faith, but I believe it will really help us move forward as an organisation. IAESTE has been a good experience from the off and we’ve found the process very easy — we would recommend it to any other company looking to expand and grow.”
By hosting a trainee, Northern Ireland businesses are also developing home grown talent. IAESTE works on a reciprocal basis, therefore for every placement offered in Northern Ireland; local students are able to avail of a work placement overseas.
Commenting on the programme, David Alderdice, Director of British Council Northern Ireland, said “The British Council recognises the importance of strengthening international connections to help develop Northern Ireland's knowledge economy.
“Through programmes such as IAESTE, local employers and universities are able to benefit from the international experience of high calibre trainees and set the foundations for future partnerships, links and networks. At the same time the programme helps to prepare our local undergraduates for working in a global economy through the experience they obtain from their international placements.”
The IAESTE programme runs in more than 80 member countries, with over 4000 traineeships exchanged each year and is the largest organisation of its kind in the world. It is supported by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) in conjunction with local Universities and the British Council. Among the other local companies who have taken students this year are Newry and Mourne District Council, Intelesens, Translink and Graham Construction.
Northern Ireland students or businesses interested in learning more about the programme can find out more by visiting http://www.britishcouncil.org/iaeste/, http://nireland.britishcouncil.org or following us on Twitter: BCouncil_NI. Applications for IAESTE 2016 will open in early autumn.