Scottish Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn visited Perth today (21 August 2017) to see at first hand how the government’s young workforce initiative is helping local young people boost their skills to get into work and supporting the growth of local businesses.
Around £500,000 is being invested in a package of measures in Perth and Kinross over the next three years as part of the Scotland-wide Developing Young Workforce (DYW) initiative.
The aim is to help more young people into work and ensure employers have access to the skills they need to grow. Nationally, the aim is to reduce youth employment by 40% by 2021 by bringing education and employers closer together. DYW regional groups are supported by Scottish Government funding until 2021.
Key partners in the local employability drive include Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Perth and Kinross Council, Perth College UHI and Skills Development Scotland.
Jamie Hepburn today visited family-owned and run business McLeod Glaziers, one of many businesses in Perth and Kinross across a range of different sectors which are backing the DYW initiative.
Mr Hepburn met Blaine Wood, a former pupil at Perth High School, whose work experience at a McLeod Glaziers has led to him being employed as a Modern Apprentice in joinery. Blaine had worked with the business one day per week over 14 months as part of the school’s Introduction to Work Programme. Company CEO Derek Petterson and Managing Director Gavin Maclean, both former Perth High School pupils, are ambassadors of the programme.
Mr Maclean said “All too often students have no idea what career path they wish to follow, and we feel this initiative helps show young people what opportunities are available through work-based learning experiences. As a local employer which is committed to nurturing young local talent, we are delighted to be able to support the initiative.”
All 10 secondary schools in the region and Perth College UHI are also involved in the young workforce initiative. It is looking to encourage enterprise in the classroom from an early age and provide work-based learning experiences for students in the senior phase, including Foundation Apprenticeships, structured mentoring and industry challenges.
Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Employability and Training, said: “The latest unemployment and employment figures show our labour market remains resilient with a record high number of people in employment and unemployment close to record lows. We have also seen the youth unemployment rate fall from a high of 25.5% in autumn 2011, to 8.4% and amongst the lowest of all EU countries.
“The work of groups like DYW Perth and Kinross is helping with this progress by working to close the gap in youth unemployment in the area.
“It is providing young people with vocational learning options and making sure employers are working with schools to encourage enterprise and business skills from an early point.
“This type of approach will assist employers in Perth and Kinross meet their current and future workforce needs and identify skills gaps, which will help to boost the local economy. I would encourage all local businesses and young people to get in touch with the DYW Perth and Kinross group to see how they can benefit from this support.
“Our support for DYW groups form part of our overall commitment to building a skilled and educated workforce which includes our Modern Apprentices and a new Flexible Workforce Development Fund which will help to up-skill or re-skill employees.”
Statistics released earlier this year found that 95% of students leaving school in the fourth, fifth or sixth year of secondary school in Perth and Kinross in 2015-16 progressed to a positive destination – higher than the Scottish average of 93.3%. The data from the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) also showed Perth and Kinross achieved the second biggest improvement of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland.
Steven Stewart, Chair of the Perth and Kinross Developing Young Workforce Regional Board, said: “The strong programmes and links we have here between business and education are clearly making a difference, particularly in helping young people go straight from school into work and apprenticeships.
“But we can’t be complacent and there’s still more work to do to make sure we provide the right range of routes into employment for all of our young people. Whatever your chosen career, there’s many equally positive paths to get there. That can be a job straight from school, being self-employed, starting an apprenticeship or training, setting up your own business or deciding to pursue further studies.
“We hope more employers, particularly small businesses, get involved in the young workforce initiative. As well as bringing new opportunities for our young people, there are big benefits for employers too, from helping to develop the management skills of your team to tapping into a pipeline of young talented employees.”