Students pick up prizes in competition to enhance employability

07 January 2016

Fourth-year student Stuart McPhail took first place for his work with Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH)

Fourth-year student Stuart McPhail took first place for his work with Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH)

Students who took part in the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) Common Good Employability Competition have been recognised at an awards ceremony on campus.

The competition, now in its fifth year, gives students from the University’s Academic Schools the chance to work on a short project for a social enterprise, to improve their employability skills while contributing to the University’s common good mission.

Students applied to work on a real-life task for one of 10 social enterprises, including Mary’s Meals, Bike Trossachs and West Lothian Credit Union. Working individually or in a team, the students spent time over a four week period completing a brief set by the organisation. The project enabled students to put their skills and knowledge into practice in a work environment, while making a contribution to their communities. For the employers, it was an opportunity to have a small piece of work completed for free and to access a wide pool of talent and fresh ideas.

First prize went to fourth-year student Stuart McPhail who worked with Employers in Voluntary Housing (EVH) to support fundraising activities for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS). Stuart was tasked with submitting an idea for a fundraising event but submitted a guide incorporating more than 20 ideas. He was awarded a cash prize of £500 and an internship with EVH.

Stuart, who articulated from Cardonald College and is on the BA Business with Law programme, said: “The project really stood out for me because I know the special work that CHAS does. I have a niece who is terminally ill and uses the services and support CHAS provides.

“It was one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever done and I was glad I was able to bring that connection.”

Susan Campbell, Recruitment Manager for EVH, said: “Stuart’s interest in this cause was evident from the start, and his enthusiasm, passion and concrete recommendations have bowled us over. He delivered an outstanding project submission; most impressive and of fantastic practical use. We will engage many of his suggestions and documents in the future.

“What's more, Stuart has succeeded in invigorating and inspiring the whole staff team to keep fundraising with new activities for CHAS.”

Third-year Web Systems Development students Holly Miller and Christopher Restrick took second place, and were awarded a cash prize of £300 and an internship with their employer Glasgow City of Science. Their project was aimed at encouraging more women into science.

Given the high standard of the project submissions, commendations were awarded to a further five students.

Senior Lecturer in Academic Development Sabine McKinnon, who runs the competition, said: “Employability is at the heart of everything we do at GCU and the competition is an excellent way to help students prepare for the world of work.

“None of the projects were easy or routine and the students had to pull out all the stops. They had to be creative, proactive, professional, and work under time pressure and I’m very proud of their achievements. They really excelled.”

Stuart is pictured with (l-r) Senior Lecturer in Academic Development Sabine McKinnon, University Secretary and Vice-Principal Governance Jan Hulme and EVH Training Manager Margaret McVeigh.