How a information transfer partnership could boost your profession

Transitions are always tricky – and making the move from university to workplace is one of the most challenging you’ll ever face. How on earth can you acquire the knowledge you need to be useful to your employer from the start?

This month, universities across the UK have been hosting events to celebrate the success of one of the country’s oldest schemes to transform university graduates into budding business strategists.

Knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) week, which ran from 3-7 November this year, marks 39 years of bringing businesses, graduates and universities together on projects that benefit all of them.

How does it work?

The scheme assigns a recent university graduate a project to undertake full-time on behalf of a UK business, which they work on in conjunction with the company’s staff.

Throughout the process, a team of university academics (not necessarily from the institution at which the graduate studied) support the student in their work, lending research skills, advice or specialist knowledge to the graduate’s raw talent.

The university where the academics are based also opens its doors to both the graduate and the company with which they are working; sharing facilities and resources.

guinea pig hearts ktp
A furry fan of the scheme dons a knitted hat. Photograph: Trumpet PR

Who’s involved?

In the last decade, some 100 universities and 700 UK business have taken part to form over 8,500 partnerships.

Partnerships so far have included developing TV shows to be broadcast on Chinese television, research into the science of cooking oil for a crisps company, and helping a water waste plant to become more eco-friendly.

Jemma Bridgeman, 40, is one recent graduate involved in a KTP scheme. After completing a degree in social housing policy at Cardiff Metropolitan University as a mature student, she was accepted on to the programme and placed with Construction Youth Trust – a charity which aims to change vulnerable young peoples’ lives by teaching them building and construction skills. For her placement, Bridgeman joined the charity to improve the efficiency of their operations.

“I’m placed at the Construction Youth Trust, but I have support from London South Bank University as well through two academic supervisors,” she says.

“I drive the project but I get plenty of support. I have an academic team for advice, as well as the company supervisor.”

Now reaching the end of her two year KTP placement, she describes the experience as “innovative and challenging”.

Christine Townley, executive director of the Construction Youth Trust, oversaw Jemma’s placement. She says her work “has been amazing – a real boost for the charity”.

The companies taking part stand to benefit from increased profits, and the small and medium-sized businesses involved will also typically receive between £80,000 and £120,000 to fund their involvement.

One of the most successful KTPs recently was between the University of Westminster and private car company Addison Lee. The associate and the university worked to create “a complete IT infrastructure rebuilt from scratch, which helps telephonists communicate with [Addison Lee’s] expanding fleet”.

As a result, average pick up times for the car company were halved to 10 minutes.

A spokesperson for the University of Westminster says: “The company is now far more profitable than they were before the KTP. They have left their competitors behind.”

As well as building relationships with local business, universities can also benefit from a boost in their individual or collective academic reputations.

For students taking part, the programme offers the chance to get real experience of business operations first hand and gives them an invaluable boost in the ever-competitive battle for a top graduate job.

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