Sector Insights

Student and Graduate placements across the Highlands and Islands - part one

Have you considered a placement in the Highlands and Islands? With opportunities on offer in a variety of locations you could discover a whole new side to Scotland, make life-long friends and business connections as well as gain vital skills for the world beyond university…

Published: 13/04/2018

Each area of the Highlands and Islands has its own unique character with different landmarks, industry sectors and even languages. In this two part blog we will take a look at seven areas across the Highlands and Islands that offer exciting opportunities for students and graduates.

Tying the Highlands together is the Northcoast 500, a scenic 516-mile route around the north coast, starting and ending at Inverness Castle, passing through Inverness-shire, Ross-shire and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness. Depending on where your placement is located, you might be able to take advantage of this unique road trip.

Caithness & Sutherland

Shellfish, Scrabster, Caithness

This large area of unspoilt, dramatic scenery is located in the far north of Scotland and includes Wick and Thurso. Both these towns are based around harbours with a big focus on fishing and tourism. So working here, you’ll never be far from the beach!

As it’s the most northerly point of Scotland, the landscape is a mix of mountains and vast moorland making it the perfect location to embrace the great outdoors.

This area offers a range of career opportunities in key sectors including energy, tourism, business services and food and drink.


Broad Street, Kirkwall, Orkney

A short ferry trip north of Caithness & Sutherland is the archipelago of Orkney, where a variant of Old Norse was originally spoken and can still be heard today in the Orcadian dialect.

Orkney, which has a population of almost 20,000, is made up of 70 islands and there’s magic in the air with stone circles and ancient monuments to explore – no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s also a key player in the marine renewables sector, home to the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) where wave and tidal devices are tested. Orkney has also earned a proud reputation in the tourism and food and drink sectors gaining international acclaim for its produce including whisky and shellfish. During the summertime, the capital Kirkwall becomes one of the busiest ports in Scotland for cruise ships.

Orkney provides the opportunity to work in a smaller business - the majority of staff are employed by companies with fewer than 50 employees.


Mareel, Shetland

Located in the most northerly point of Great Britain, Shetland is made up of more than 100 islands of which only 15 are inhabited. With a population of just over 23,000, more than a third reside in the capital, Lerwick.

Given its close proximity to Norway there are historical Nordic links and this influence is noticeable in the Shetland dialect and in the place names. Every January, Vikings roam the streets in the annual fire festival ‘Up Helly Aa’.

If you like the sea this is a great place to be as nowhere in Shetland is more than three miles from the coast. The largest industry sectors here are aquaculture and the oil industry, followed by the public sector, tourism and food and drink. There’s also been a focus on renewables with wind and wave energy projects.

Creative industries run strong in Shetland, home to Mareel on Lerwick’s quayside, the UK's most northerly music, cinema and creative industries centre.  Shetland is also the location of award-winning BBC One drama ‘Shetland’, showcasing its stunning landscape.

Stay tuned for the second part of this blog where we explore more locations across the Highlands and Islands including Lochaber, Skye & Wester Ross, Moray, the Western Isles and Argyll & Islands. We’ll also flag the Highlands and Islands student placements and graduate opportunities that we’re currently recruiting for.