Graduates can make a difference.

For many university graduates, the chance to make a positive difference to society, can be as essential as finding a job that pays well and comes with great benefits.

Some jobs can even come with all that rolled up into the perfect package.

One organisation that’s currently recruiting graduates and offers all of this and more, is centre of procurement expertise, Scotland Excel. Its £2bn contract portfolio covers everything from transport, construction, IT, social care to school meals, recycling and more.

Its membership includes all 32 councils and more than 150 public sector organisations – who use the contracts to source the range of goods and services they need, to deliver much needed public services for communities across Scotland.

Rhona Fecke started as a graduate trainee with Scotland Excel in July 2022 after seeing the post advertised on the Glasgow University careers portal. She told us why Scotland Excel’s graduate trainee programme appealed to her.

The Herald:

“Working for an organisation that makes a difference to people and communities was an important factor in my decision to apply. I wanted to work on projects that help shape Scotland, and Scotland Excel helps me achieve that.

“It’s been a very quick couple of years since joining. I’ve learned a lot, been kept busy and it’s given me the opportunity to make a difference and that’s exactly what I was looking for.

“When I first started, I worked in the policy and governance team which gave me a good grounding in the political and legal background of procurement; my degree is in law, so this was interesting to me. I then moved over to the construction team to work on the development of the new build housing framework - the biggest contract in Scotland Excel’s history worth £1.5 billion - giving me experience in another sector.”

Rhona was recently promoted to a full-time position as a Procurement Coordinator with the children’s social care team and it has given her a sense of achievement.

“When I joined the children’s social care team, I felt the work we were doing aligned with my values, and I was part of something where I could help to do some social good.

“It’s an important subject and a hot topic in the news at the moment. The work we do can help shape policies and improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society. It’s vital that we get it right and there’s a desire in the team to ensure we do the best we can.”

Rhona wasn’t sure what public procurement was until she researched it and found out that it touched nearly every aspect of our lives.

“Working at Scotland Excel has really opened my eyes to public procurement and the key role we play to ensure our members get the best from their contracts, which means people and communities benefit from this.

“Many people think procurement’s like online shopping where you’re trying to find the cheapest product. But often it’s about ensuring we have the best product or service to fit our members’ needs. That can mean being able to track where it came from, its environmental impact, does the company pay the living wage, does it meet with the latest regulations and so many other factors before we look at price. It’s a continually evolving landscape and I think we are evolving with it.”

The Herald:

Scotland Excel’s graduate programme started more than ten years ago and has been developed to attract new talent to public procurement. The programme has been created to meet the needs of its newly appointed graduates and the organisation’s membership.

“Everyone during the process from applying to joining as a graduate trainee was very encouraging and supportive and when I had questions, I asked one of the team.

“Working at home at first took some getting used to but the hybrid approach means I get some time in the office with colleagues. This works well with my life outside of work and it means I don’t need to commute every day – which is a benefit to my bank balance and the environment!

“I have to say that the other benefits of working here also attracted me - good holiday allowance, flexible working, good pension scheme and the people are nice.”

For many graduates thinking of applying, this could be their first introduction to public sector procurement and it might seem a bit daunting. However, Rhona had some words of wisdom.

“I would advise you to do some research into public procurement and see if it’s for you. I was surprised how much of it affected our daily lives. I like that I’m working on projects that could help shape Scotland in the future.”

If you think a career that supports Scotland's social, economic and environmental goals is for you, then check out Scotland Excel’s Graduates page.

Scotland Excel, a non-profit procurement organisation based in Paisley, is seeking four graduates with the minimum Honours Degree from any discipline who achieved a 2:1 or above (achieved or anticipated) or a Post Graduate Degree.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 07 April 2024 at 11.59pm.