We are giving some of LCR’s top SME sensor-related technology businesses a much-needed skills boost thanks to our internship facilitation programme. This follows recent reports that almost two thirds of technology leaders feel there is a technology skills shortage in the North West.
According to The Harvey Nash / KPMG CIO Survey 2019, 65% of the North West’s top technology executives have reported a lack of technology skills in areas such as development, big data, and robotics. As a result, we are supporting the technology skills pipeline by facilitating tailored internship placements for our resident businesses, having already connected some of them with talented interns from our university partners, University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), via our dedicated student-to-industry matching service.
In the last 12 months alone, we have placed 14 interns from a number of disciplines with businesses which have needed to bolster their team, some of whom have then gone on to take up full-time graduate positions with the hosting companies.
For businesses, the matching service makes it easier and quicker to access the best local talent, something we’ve found is a common need amongst the businesses currently residing with us.
For students, this presents the opportunity to immerse themselves in an environment which is driving innovation, whilst also giving them a taste of the commercial aspects of product design and prototyping projects. It is hoped the experience will also help in improving their employability.
Pulse Systems Ltd, one of Sensor City’s member businesses, recently offered a full-time position to one of the students undertaking an internship over the summer. Kevin Davies, Managing Director of Pulse Systems Ltd, explained: “Sensor City helped us recruit three students through the University of Liverpool’s internship scheme. Each individual was given autonomy to deliver against a set of tasks aligned with our Smart Buildings project for Sensor City. We have been really impressed by Sensor City’s facilitation service and equally by the calibre of the students involved. So much so, that we have offered a full-time contract to one student, Oliver Newman, upon graduation and will be covering his degree costs over the next two years so that he no longer needs to work night shifts to support himself through his degree. We are delighted that Sensor City’s assistance with these internships has led to such a beneficial arrangement for both Pulse Systems and our student intake. We are keen to continue hosting student placements as our business grows – helping to create new jobs in electronic design engineering, software development and volume manufacturing within LCR.”
Our facilitation of paid internship placements is just one benefit on offer to companies basing themselves within our flagship University Enterprise Zone. They can also make use of dedicated office or hot desk accommodation, access to state-of-the-art laboratories and prototyping equipment, expert business advice, and facilitated network connections. The full range of engagement options can be found online. Students looking for internship vacancies with Sensor City’s residents can find opportunities on the Sensor City community page.
Dr Joanne Phoenix, Interim Executive Director at Sensor City, says, “The findings of the Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey are reflected in the struggles of many of the businesses that we work with. Accessing top talent is one of the key issues that our members face, and finding the best way to do this is a question we are asked regularly. While our internship matching service gives valuable experience to the region’s innovation stars of tomorrow, it’s also one of the most accessible ways for businesses to connect with talent and has even helped some businesses recruit key members of their teams. With our strong network of academic and business partners, Sensor City is right at the heart of innovation in the region, so we are best placed to make these connections and help futureproof Liverpool City Region’s status as one of the UK’s key innovation hubs.”
Shay Stanley, a Mechanical Engineering student from Liverpool John Moores University, recently started a year-long paid internship at Sensor City to develop the skills he’d gained during his degree. Shay is currently applying his knowledge to a piece of wearable technology that can be used to monitor how people interact with objects and other people in a virtual environment.
Speaking of his experience of working alongside our in-house engineers and prototype specialists, Shay said: “The industry specialists at Sensor City have introduced me to new technologies and manufacturing processes such as flexible PCB fabrication, as well as helping me improve my CAD and programming skills. I’m looking forward to being able to work with local companies to help them develop new prototypes and products. The scheme has opened my eyes to all the possibilities that are available to me after I graduate.”
The paid internship scheme is just one strand of our current student offering and an important way that we hope to improve the pool of local talent, which ultimately will make Liverpool City Region a more attractive base for companies involved in the sector. We open our doors to all students each Wednesday during term time and allow them to make use of our hotdesking and break out spaces. Providing this free space for students encourages them to hold society meet ups in our innovation hub – the University of Liverpool’s Coding and Robotics Society is just one of many student groups currently making regular use of the offer.
Students attending these society meet-ups also have the opportunity to be introduced to some of Sensor City’s larger corporate partners, including Unilever and Arrow Electronics, who are looking for routes to access new innovative technologies and talent. Rather than undertake a more general sponsorship model, these industry giants are calling upon us to scope out the hottest talent for them and facilitate challenges and student projects, which is adding value to their operations.
As a University Enterprise Zone (UEZ), we believe Sensor City is best placed to encourage businesses both big and small to interact with universities and their students, with the aim of increasing local growth and innovation through collaborative working.