Heritage Group was earlier nominated for the Ulster University Placement Employer of the Year award in the ‘new partner’ category and has now been awarded the accolade.
Northern Ireland Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry congratulated employers taking part in the scheme and – reflecting similar views in Guernsey – stressed the business case for employee development:
‘Our highly-skilled graduates are a key driver of our economy, helping to grow indigenous companies and attract foreign direct investment,’ he said.
Ulster University and Heritage Administration Services, the group’s Belfast subsidiary, developed a relationship in which Heritage provides placements to two graduates of the university for the past two years as part of the Professional Experience Programme.
Two graduates were taken on in the first year of the relationship, one in accountancy and one in marketing, and both subsequently joined the company full time after their six-month placements.
Former long-term Guernsey resident Lorna Zimny, now head of accounts for Heritage in Belfast and graduate project coordinator, said: ‘Having our first two graduate recruits join Heritage full time after their placements demonstrates our willingness to invest in the right people and in the calibre of Ulster University’s students.
‘We had no reservations about taking on more graduates in our second year and both are currently completing their placements.’
Richard Tee, Heritage Group chief executive, said: ‘Heritage is a progressive employer and we take great pride in offering opportunities for talented young people from a variety of disciplines.
‘To gain an award that recognises our commitment to our placement partnership is an endorsement that underlines our dedication to professional development.'
Heritage has also offered ‘sandwich course placements’ to undergraduate students since 2011.
Ulster University employability manager, Brian Byers, said the broad nature of the relationship and the success of the placements compelled Ulster University to nominate Heritage for Employer of the Year.
‘Heritage offers a flexible approach to our students and is excellent to work with. Our students speak highly of their Heritage placement experiences,’ he said.
‘Our partnership has been very successful so far and we’re hoping to continue to develop our relationship to the benefit of future graduates.’
The awards programme is an annual event intended to recognise key partnerships across a range of employers and sectors.
In the photograph, former Guernsey resident Lorna Zimny, now head of accounts for Heritage in Belfast, accepts a national award for helping to shape the future of university students on behalf of the Heritage Group. With her are Stephanie Gibson, left, the trainee fund accountant who has been taken on permanently, and Ulster University employability manager Brian Byers.