Developing the Young Workforce Perth and Kinross is a partnership between employers and education to help boost youth employment, improve our skills base and help our region grow.

Backed by the Scottish Government, we work on a range of programmes with many of our region’s 6,000 businesses, primary and secondary schools, Perth College UHI and other organisations, including the skills and voluntary sector. We also work with other young workforce groups in neighbouring regions and other parts of Scotland.

Find out more on what we do nationally & regionally for local employers, young people, parents & schools, here; www.dyw.scot

We have a great base here in Perth and Kinross, with many successful partnerships and initiatives already up and running. Some 95% of local school leavers go into employment, apprenticeships, higher education, further education, training, or voluntary work.

But we need to do more. That’s why £500,000 is being invested locally to ensure none of our young people are left behind. And to help more of our employers enjoy the benefits from supporting and employing young people.

Don’t miss out. Find out more about how we can help you and how you can get involved.

Our Team

Developing the Young Workforce Perth and Kinross has a small, friendly and experienced executive team. They provide a vital link for businesses and schools to work together to engage, inspire and develop our future young workforce here in Perth and Kinross. Our team can help:

• Bring employers and schools together to build mutually beneficial partnerships

• Generate a pipeline of skilled and talented employees for your business

• Support you in working with young people with vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds

• Put you in touch with partners and programmes to help develop the skills of your own team

• Support employers to recruit apprentices and trainees

Get in touch and they can help you find the best way to get involved to fit your individual circumstances


Mia Davidson


Mia has recently joined the DYW team as the Digital Marketing apprentice. As a young person Mia uses social media through her day to day life and has took a strong interest to the role and will help our online business thrive to the best of her abilities. She will go ongoing training to complete her qualification while also managing her role within DYW.

John Carroll


Our DYW Manager, John Carroll, has nearly 40 years’ experience in the education system in various parts of Scotland. He is a former Head Teacher at St Paul’s RC Academy in Dundee where the school was closely involved in piloting DYW activities in the City. Most recently, he has been Quality Improvement Officer with Aberdeen City Council.
Under his leadership at St Paul’s RC Academy in Dundee, John was instrumental in driving forward several programmes to improve literacy and numeracy, raising aspirations among students and supporting young people to achieve in spite of their challenging backgrounds. This fits well with our focus on equalities and our own Resolutions programme. John has also worked closely in his previous roles with a range of business partners and employers to deliver initiatives which helped increase understanding of local employment opportunities, improved the relevance of the curriculum and widened employment opportunities for pupils.


John Robertson


12 years of Business Development in the education sector, preceded by 18 years of Operations Management with National Training Providers has  given me a deep understanding of the interaction between Employers and the Education and Training sector.

Working with this exciting initiative will allow me to put together Employers with the young people who will hopefully become their workforce of the future.

Lesley English


DYW board

The Developing The Young Workforce Perth and Kinross Board is responsible for setting our local strategy to:

• better prepare young people for the world of work

• encourage more employers to engage with education and recruit more young people

Led by the private sector, our Board brings together all of the key partners who have a role to play in making a positive difference. They include small, medium and large employers from key sectors of our economy, Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Perth and Kinross Council, Perth College UHI and Skills Development Scotland, as well as organisations representing the third sector


Steven Stewart
Director of Communications

Organisation: Stagecoach Group 
Sector: Transport 

Steven is Chair of the Developing our Young Workforce Perth and Kinross Board and a Director of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce. A former journalist, he has more than 25-years’ experience in communications in the private and public sector. Steven is passionate about young people and helping them achieve their potential. He is a mentor for Career Ready, a national initiative helping prepare students for the world of work, and is also Vice-Chair of the local advisory board. Steven also takes a close interest in the future of his home City of Perth. He represents the Chamber on Perth City Development Board, is an Ambassador for the Invest in Perth programme, and also sits on the Board of Ecotechnic, a renewables and clean-tech business network. 


Liz Jackson
Managing Director

Organisation: Fairways Recruitment 
Sector: Recruitment 

Liz is a Business Mentor with Scottish Chamber of Commerce and until 2013 was Chair of CIPD Scotland after a tenure of 7 years.  She brings in excess of 25 years working at board level across a number of large organisations and industries during periods of significant change and severe budget constraint prior to taking on her own business at Fairways in 2010.  She specialises in reviewing and implementing robust systems, performance and efficiency measures, recruitment and selection processes, employee engagement, TUPE transfers and providing HR employment law advice to clients with 100% Employment Tribunal success rate.


Helen Smout
Chief Executive

Organisation: Culture Perth and Kinross
Sector: Culture 

Helen Smout is Chief Executive of Culture Perth and Kinross (CPK), a registered charity which delivers Libraries, Archives, Family History Services, Museums and Galleries in 17 venues across Perth and Kinross which in 2018/19 received over 666,800 visits. Previously Helen was Service Manager for Culture within Perth and Kinross Council and before that the Libraries and Information Services Manager. Helen is passionate about the power of culture and the arts to transform – be that in individuals, communities or localities and works to make services, activities and experiences open to all. Helen recently worked to support the development of a new Heritage and Culture Learning Pathway for CPK which helps children and young people explore the many varied career options in the Heritage sector through the services delivered by Culture Perth and Kinross including visits, workshops, work experience, volunteering, foundation and modern apprenticeships and graduate internships.

Sarah Russell
Operations Manager

Organisation: Giraffe/Checkin
Sector: Charity 

Sarah is the Operations Manager for CheckIn Works/Giraffe, an innovative and successful social enterprise based in Perth. She engages with local employers and facilitates vocational training and support for their jobseekers. Sarah has previously been involved in a number of local Perthshire businesses and has more than 20 years’ experience in other hospitality settings, both locally and abroad.

John Duncan
Measurement & Insight Consultant

Organisation: Aviva
Sector: Insurance

John has worked for Aviva in Perth for the last 15 years in multiple disciplines and roles including Credit Management, Claims, Finance, Measurement and Insight. He has worked for Aviva in Perth for the last 15 years in multiple disciplines and roles including Credit Management, Claims, Finance, Measurement and Insight.

Dave Fernie
‎Director of Energy Contracts

Organisation: Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE)
Sector: Energy 

David is Head of Energy contracts at SSE where he has worked for 20 years. David started out as an apprentice in the shipyard, moving on in a variety of roles in the oil, finance and retail sectors. Taking time out in between to study at university.
David is Deputy Chairman of a charity foundation that supports youth employability schemes. David is currently working towards a diploma in Coaching.

John Stewart
SSE HR Director

Organisation: SSE
Sector: Energy

John is the HR Director at SSE. Hehas been actively involved with DYW for a number of years. He was a member of the National Employer Board, who oversaw the set-up of the DYW Network, and he is currently a DYW Ambassador. He has a keen interest in supporting the development of young people and is involved with Career Ready, at a Local and National Level. SSE are a major employer of young people through both Apprenticeship and Social Inclusion Programmes.

Ken Brown
Project Manager

Organisation: Balfrour Beatty
Sector: Construction

Ken Brown has worked for Balfour Beatty for 35 years, starting out as a summer placement site Engineer to a Project Manager and going on to be involved in numerous successful and challenging projects in Scotland and the North of England, including the Forth Bridge and Waverley Station. He has worked with and formed many teams, always with a focus on employing and developing young people and has been fortunate to be recognised with a number of awards including three Saltire commendation awards, Network Rail awards, Considerate Constructor Scheme awards and Alumnus of the Year from Edinburgh Napier University.

Ken values the opportunity to witness first hand both the short term and long-term benefits from the work he does with future generations. He believes these are the young people who have the potential to be the next Thomas Telford or Brunel and that it all starts with simply getting involved. 

Ewan Dear


Jill Hunter
Area Manager

Organisation: Skills Development Scotland
Sector: Training 

As Area Manager, Jill oversees the multidisciplinary team of advisers at SDS who work with young people and adults to develop their career management skills. She works collaboratively with a range of partners ultimately supporting people to realise their potential. Jill’s first “real job” was as a Careers Adviser working in schools in Perth and Kinross and latterly as the Careers Adviser within Perth College.

Andrew Burnett




Bev Leslie
Head Teacher

Organisation: Blairgowrie High School
Sector: Education 

Bev has been head teacher of Blairgowrie High School for almost 3 years and has had a varied and interesting career path. After completing her probationary teaching period, Bev worked as a Training Analyst for Scottish Amicable. She then moved back into teaching – her subjects being Business Education and Accounting.

Sean Hagney
Head Teacher

Organisation: St. John’s RC Acadmey
Sector: Education 

Sean is the Headteacher of St John’s RC Academy and Leader of North Inch Community Campus in Perth.

Sean has worked within the education sector in a variety of roles for over 20 years. He has particular interests in international education and  assessment.

In addition to roles within the local authority, Sean is a non-executive member of the SQA Board, Depute Convenor of the SQA’s Advisory Council and member of the Qualifications Committee.

David Gourley
Head of Learning and Teaching Enhancement

OrganisationPerth College UHI
Sector: Education 

In his current role David leads on quality improvement activities in learning and teaching at Perth College. David recognises that the current biggest challenge in education is, preparing our students for jobs that don’t yet exist. He realises that order for Colleges to achieve this, courses need to develop transferable skills in their students.

David worked in research in anti-biotic and anti-parasite drug design in universities and industry before moving into educational management in the college sector in 2004.

Gillian McEwen
National FSB Board Member

Organisation: Federation of Small Businesses
Sector: Consultancy 

Gillian is a small business owner as well as being a national FSB Board Member. She became a Non-Operational Director for FSB in March 2015. She previous held the post of FSB Regional Secretary for North East Scotland (all positions for FSB on a voluntary basis). 

Jeannine Mcvean



Donald Mcleod



Judith Golden



Melanie Thomson

Organisation: Thomas Thomson Ltd 
Sector: Agriculture 

Melanie joined the family business in 1987 having originally worked as a horticultural advisor. The business was originally textile spinning in the Blairgowrie mills, with raspberry growing, traditional to the area, a secondary enterprise. The mills closed in 1979 and the fruit side of the business grew and developed and now serves supermarkets throughout the UK with the finest fresh fruit including raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.