BUSINESSES in the East of England could benefit from £1.2million of funding for internships with the help of a scheme announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week. The national programme will focus on the future growth sectors, such as low carbon, b

BUSINESSES in the East of England could benefit from £1.2million of funding for internships with the help of a scheme announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week.

The national programme will focus on the future growth sectors, such as low carbon, biosciences and ICT - areas in which the East of England is particularly strong.

The programme will benefit businesses by bringing in fresh talent to help boost their productivity and graduates will gain valuable experience and training through a structured support programme which will help them into employment.

EEDA has worked closely with the region's universities and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to ensure co-ordination in the allocation of resources to match the supply and demand for places.

Alison Lys, head of skills at EEDA, said businesses, graduates and the economy in general would benefit: "Businesses need well-qualified and dynamic people to help them compete in the global economy. Yet there are many high-calibre graduates in the region who are desperate for an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. We want to ensure that graduates educated in the region stay in the region and fill the skills gap.

"With this £1.2 million scheme, working closely with the universities and the FSB, we will match the right business with the right graduate."

David Burch, Federation of Small Businesses East of England Policy Manager, said: "Research shows that one in four graduates are offered full-time employment in the business at the end of the placement, so graduate internships are a win-win for both the business and graduate. We will be encouraging our members to fully play their part in this innovative scheme."

The universities offering the internships are Anglia Ruskin University, Norwich University College of Arts, University of Bedfordshire, University of East Anglia, University of Essex, University of Hertfordshire and Writtle College.