A GOVERNMENT-backed intern programme is proving to be a fast-track to full-time employment for previously unemployed graduates around Scotland.

New figures from Adopt An Intern (AAI), a spin-out from the Centre for Scottish Public Policy Research, suggest 76% of interns have secured full-time employment within three months of carrying out paid-for placements in private, public and third-sector organisations.

AAI notes the success rate is even higher when figures are collated for private businesses only, stating that 84% of graduates found full-time work after their internship with almost as many (82%) doing so within a month of the placement ending. Some two-thirds (64%) found work with their AAI employer.

Statistics also show 97% of previously unemployed interns go on to a "positive destination", which it defines as either a move into permanent work, a return to education or seeing their internship extended.

AAI, which formed in 2010 and is headed by chief executive Joy Lewis, is aiming to make its 500th placement in Scotland by the end of the year, having placed 350 individuals to date. It is planning a particular push in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, where it is looking to treble the 115 interns it has placed to date over the next phase of its development.

The not-for-profit organisation has been backed by £500,000 of government money since 2010. It hopes more will follow after ministers indicated their satisfaction with the progress it has made.

AAI has secured backing from other sources, including EU social funding, and undertakes contracts of its own, having recently provided 20 interns for the Museums and Galleries Scotland.

A corporate fostering drive has also been launched, under which AAI is hoping that larger firms can help by adopting small companies to assist them fund interns.

Ms Lewis said feedback from interns shows the scheme significantly boosts confidence and job prospects. She said: "This is not them following someone around making tea - they are given projects to do which the business actually needs done and does not have the resources to do themselves.

"They have got something very solid to write up about on their CV once they are finished, and we know because of the statistics that it is working, that they go in full of confidence to their next job. We believe that these internships work."

Ms Lewis said AAI aims to foster a culture of internships in Scotland, stating that around half of the companies that take in interns pay for it themselves.

She insisted the scheme is just as beneficial to organisations as it is to the interns themselves.

Ms Lewis added: "We offer them a free recruitment service to save their resources, and to help them if they have not got an HR set-up.

"All the businesses come to us with a very good reason for taking on a graduate.

"We make sure they are capable of line managing, that they have done it before, that they understand this graduate needs to have an outcome. We help them with the job spec to make sure what we are giving them is a proper graduate-level project."

Ms Lewis said there is no longer a lack of support available for looking to find employment, but said the onus was on the individual to put the work in.

She added: "We do get a lot of graduates who send out round robin CVs that are not adapted [for each job]. We say you have to put your heart and soul into every application, to make it personal to the job [advertised]."