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Steve Hardie: Young must keep learning to earn

Steve Hardie, The Prince's Trust Scotland

Steve Hardie, The Prince's Trust Scotland

  • by Steve Hardie
 

THE Prince’s Trust held a reception for MSPs, partners and supporters from across the public and private sector last week. It is testament to the success we’re achieving getting young people into education, jobs and business that the Garden Lobby was so packed on Tuesday evening.

THE Prince’s Trust held a reception for MSPs, partners and supporters from across the public and private sector last week. It is testament to the success we’re achieving getting young people into education, jobs and business that the Garden Lobby was so packed on Tuesday evening.

As a Senior Job Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust I understand the personal side of the work the Trust does better than most. I got involved through The Prince’s Trust Team programme and ended up working for the charity as a Job Ambassador. ­Going out and speaking to young people every day has given me a bigger insight into the challenges facing those struggling with unemployment.

The theme of our reception was “from learning to earning” and as always, young people were trusted to tell their own stories as they will always be more inspiring than a man in a suit.

They were given the opportunity to take the audience through an interactive session where they shared stats about young people in today’s society that were relevant to them – for example underachievement at school – and then explained what the Trust had done over the past year to help with this issue.

It is really important that young people are given the opportunity to have a voice on these subjects, and to give people who can make a difference a raw insight into the challenges that young people face today.

I was compere for the evening and introduced those who had been asked along to give the guests a bit more context to what it is we actually do.

Michael talked about how he had completely given up on school and been suspended 35 times. After getting involved with our xl programme he excelled, his attendance improved and he received one of the best reports in his year group.

Alan had been unemployed for over a year before he started our Get into Logistics programme. Now he works for DHL full time and is even a Young Trustee on the board of the DHL Foundation.

Mhairi set up her own PR business with the support of The Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland programme. Mhairi’s business has grown and she now employs four staff, is the only dedicated PR agency for the food and drinks industry in the country, and her clients include big name firms such as Brewdog.

These are just three examples of the work we do to get young people working again, with 8,000 more stories just like them across Scotland.

Our director Allan Watt also spoke about the recent interim report from the Wood Commission which recommended a number of things that resonated strongly with all of us at the Trust and linked closely with our learning to earning theme.

The report said clearer and more open routes were needed into education for young people, particularly for those who don’t think mainstream education is for them.

As someone who has faced youth unemployment head on and sees the impact of it every day in the young people I work with, I know that education doesn’t have to be the be all and end all. Our Summer Sessions campaign last year found that young people with few qualifications are almost twice as likely as their peers to believe they will never amount to ­anything.

We still provide lots of successful programmes and courses to get young people with few qualifications into work but we have a real focus on education where we can too. Too often a young person’s educational success is limited by background.

Our own education programmes, such as our xl clubs, which run in 100 of Scotland’s schools, take account of different abilities, learning styles and life circumstances of young people.

Education will only inspire young people if they can see why it matters and why it is relevant to them. That is why a better mix of academic, vocational and enterprise opportunities is so important.

Ensuring young people are given every chance to prove their worth is more crucial than ever. Much more can and should be done to make sure young people have access to the right solution at the right time to prevent them falling through the cracks, regardless of their starting point and what stage of education and employment they “should” be at.

 

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