New appointment to drive forward youth employment in Perth and Kinross

Ambitious plans in Perth and Kinross to help more young people into work and ensure employers have access to the skills they need to grow have taken a major step forward with a new key appointment.

Fiona Reith has been appointed to manage the Developing Young Workforce (DYW) initiative in the region, which will see around £500,000 invested in a package of measures locally over the next three years.

The DYW initiative is funded by the Scottish Government, which has set a target of reducing 2014 levels of youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021.

In Perth and Kinross, the DYW programme will particularly focus on encouraging more of the region’s 6,000 employers to offer work experience opportunities, promoting apprenticeships and helping ensure young people from all backgrounds can build the right skills to enter the workplace.

Fiona Reith, who has a background in both the private and public sector, will take up the new post at the end of January. She joins from Perth and Kinross Council where she has been involved in several aspects of the DYW agenda, including the work experience programme in the region’s 10 secondary schools, employer engagement, the employability programme Career Ready and some work with primary schools.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to getting out and about meeting more employers. We have a vibrant and diverse economy in Perth and Kinross and there are lots of easy ways for businesses to connect with education for the benefit of our local young people. “Employers who currently support schools and the college have already made a huge difference, helping make young people more aware of their options and more confident to pursue them. We want to hear from employers who want to do more and from those who would like to understand how they can get started. As well as the satisfaction of giving something back and developing your staff, you can identify new talent and new ideas for your business.”

Major private and public-sector local employers backing the DYW initiative include SSE, Aviva, Stagecoach Group, Perth and Kinross Council, Perth College UHI and the NHS. Other local companies supporting the programme include recruitment specialists Fairways, Crieff Hydro, fruit growers Thomas Thomson, and John Clark Motor Group.

Steven Stewart, Chair of the Perth and Kinross DYW Regional Board, said: “We’re delighted Fiona is taking up this important new role. She has extensive experience in both the private and public sector, and has already built strong links with schools, the college and businesses in our region.”

Around 92 per cent of young people in Perth and Kinross have a positive destination after school in either work, an apprenticeship, education and training or voluntary activities.

But Mr Stewart added: “We must do more to help all of our young people, particularly those who face challenges in their lives. There’s also great potential for this initiative to benefit small employers, which make up nearly 9 in 10 of our local businesses

“This is a hugely exciting time for our region, with plans for a Tay Cities Deal, new ideas to reinvigorate the City of Perth and its wider economy, and a UK City of Culture bid. Our young people, the workforce of tomorrow, are critical to these plans and our region’s future.”

Two Employer Engagement Advisors, covering Perth and the rural parts of the region, are also being recruited as part of the DYW initiative in the next few months. In addition, plans are being developed for a roadshow covering key towns across Perth and Kinross to outline to local schools and businesses how they can get involved.