The Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy Project (USEFE) was founded in 2013 and is a joint initiative, between the Local Authorities of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon in conjunction with Bord Na Mona and the ESB. The purpose of this initiative is to show how business led regional development can lead to economic growth and job creation across Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. The success of the project in bringing together businesses across a range of sectors such as food, creative craft, renewable energy and tourism led to a unique partnership at local authority and business level to highlight and maximise the potential of this region, which crosses three provinces.
The Local Enterprise Offices in the four counties recognise the importance and need for micro business to be able to access new skills The Graduate Internship for Entrepreneurship Programme proposes to support business by bringing together academic institutions, enterprise bodies (The Local Enterprise Offices of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon) and 24 SME’s to facilitate the placement of a graduate/final year student (24 in total) in start up companies, innovation-oriented companies and entrepreneurial social ventures in the region for a six month placement period. With priority sectors of Food, Manufacturing, Forestry, Energy and Tourism.
This programme is funded through the LEO Competitive Fund and it is envisaged that through this programme the graduates will be connected with a six month full-time paid internship centred on a two way skills transfer, graduates/final year students will transfer new skills and approaches, employers will transfer entrepreneurial learning and experience of running/managing a business.
The third level colleges involved in this initiative are Athlone IT, St. Angela’s Sligo, and IT Sligo, each of the colleges have recommended the programme to their students and there has been a significant number of applications from student across the region in availing of a placement.
Speaking at the event, Joe Lowe, Head of Enterprise in Leitrim reiterated the importance of programmes like this in supporting the Small Business Community to access new skills and expertise that may not be currently available to their business.
Frank Curran Chief Executive of Leitrim County Council highlighted how well the Upper Shannon Future Economies Initiative is working in the region in supporting economic and regional development, and welcomed the Graduate Internship for Entrepreneurship Programme as a significant programme for the four counties from both the business and the graduates perspective.