East Midlands food and drink firms with hard-to-fill vacancies are being advised to explore a new technical recruitment opportunity.

Business support organisation The Food and Drink Forum has teamed up with graduate recruitment experts HotProspects on a two-year project to offer small and medium-sized food and drink companies grants towards the cost of recruiting a graduate, either for specific projects or for permanent placements.

Now HotProspects has launched a new technical recruitment arm to address the needs of those in the sector with a more technically demanding focus.

With some of the most important technical abilities being learned after university, HotProspects² specialises in finding those graduates with specific skills and up to five years industry experience. At the same time, HotProspects continues to focus on the retention of fresh graduates, providing grant funded graduate recruitment through till 2011.

HotProspects² project manager Elizabeth Andrzejewski-Wilson said: “Since the launch of HotProspects back in 2006, the brand and the team has evolved, and it soon became clear that our strength lay in our ability to source those technically focused graduates with niche skill sets.

“Specific or rare skills sets can be very hard to find, especially in the food and drink sector where skills shortages have long held back business growth. Hence, HotProspects² was born.”

The new service allows businesses to pick and choose the elements they require, from a targeted marketing campaign through to full service graduate recruitment.

“We have taken what we believe are some of the strongest elements of the original service and developed them for a targeted market, allowing us to ensure we are best placed to meet their needs. Our fees are still fixed and agreed at the start, based on time expended, not a percentage of salary,” said Elizabeth.

“The HotProspects service continues to provide small business in the food and drink sector with grant-funded graduate recruitment within the East Midlands, meaning the standard recruitment process can be accessed at no cost to the business. Whilst HotProspects² allows those with more complex requirements to access the support they need.”

Grant funding of £1,000 per business is available for a limited period, thanks to funding that has been made available in partnership from East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

This can be put towards the cost of the HotProspects² service, as well as being used for HotProspects’ graduate recruitment.

For more information, contact Gemma Baguley at The Food and Drink Forum on 0115 9758810.