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Caithness News Bulletins April 2003

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Undergraduates from throughout the Highlands and Islands are being offered the chance to work with a wide variety of local businesses during the summer.

STEP, the Shell Technology Enterprise Programme, is a UK-wide student placement scheme, backed by Shell UK and administered in the region by Careers Scotland and local enterprise companies in the Highlands and Islands Enterprise network.

Unlike more general work experience schemes, STEP offers students in their second or penultimate year the chance to get their teeth into a specific project designed to help the business improve its performance.

This could include anything from carrying out customer research to developing a new product, creating strategies to increase market share or identifying export opportunities.

Regional organiser Steve Miles of Careers Scotland said the scheme offers benefits to both employers and students.

"The beauty of STEP is that it's a win-win option for all concerned," said Steve.  "Local businesses gain from having a bright, enthusiastic staff member to handle a development project, while the students experience a real-life business environment which will enhance their skills and boost future employment prospects.

"A wide range of businesses and community organisations are already signed up, so we're confident of being able to match good applicants to dynamic organisations where they can really put their ideas into practice."  Placements usually last eight weeks and run during the summer holiday period, though some term-time and even full-year placements can be available.

Students taking part in the programme receive a tax-free allowance of 170 per week as well as the chance to compete for the title of the UK's most enterprising student.

Any student interested in finding out more about STEP in the Highlands and Islands is welcome to contact Steve Miles, either by phoning 07789 926803, or email steve.miles@careers-scotland.org.uk

Separate local contacts are in place for the Western Isles - Donnie Smith, Tel 01851 770315 - and for Shetland - Linda Robertson, Tel 01595 695791