Jim McCall confident more vocational schools will open

ONE of Scotland’s wealthiest businessmen has said that a vocational college he established last year is a “blueprint for the future”.

Jim McColl: Vocational colleges plan. Picture: Robert Perry

Jim McColl, chairman of Clyde Blowers, has claimed that Newlands Junior College in Glasgow will be “the first of many similar ventures across Scotland” and that it provides “a glimpse of the future” for the education sector,

The Clyde Blowers tycoon will outline his vision at a skills conference in Edinburgh next week.

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The independent vocational school on Glasgow’s south side has the backing of the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council and was set up to help 14-16 year-olds gain practical experience before entering the world of work.

In an article published ahead of the conference, McColl said: “With a renewed focus on skills and vocational training to help tackle high levels of youth unemployment, there has never been a better time for such a place.

“I think we’re seeing a glimpse of the future. I’m confident this will be the first of many similar ventures throughout Scotland that will ultimately share an ambition to make a difference for our young people.”

Mr McColl is due to speak at the conference, The Apprentice: building a strong, skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland, which takes place on 19 May during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

John Lochrie, operations director for British Gas’ HomeCare Services, whose Scottish Gas arm is sponsoring the event, said: “Apprentices are central to a strong, highly-skilled and diverse workforce.

“At Scottish Gas, we’re committed to providing our apprentices with skills and experiences for life, and the opportunity for a successful and fulfilling career.

“Our apprenticeship schemes benefit not just the career prospects of young people, but our communities and the wider the economy too.”

Linda Urquhart, chairwoman of law firm Morton Fraser and Investors in People Scotland, will address the diversity agenda at the conference - and the need for basic workplace skills.

“Some of the support that makes a successful transition into early employment is very much about the little things,” she said. “Does someone clearly explain the culture of the particular workplace a young person is joining and what’s expected of them?

“It’s about turning up on time, turning up every day, making medical and dental appointments outside working hours where possible, helping your fellow employees, being nice to customers, not using your mobile phone during working hours.”

Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training, will also speak at the event on ‘Modern skills for a modern Scotland’, along with Marion Beattie of Skills Development Scotland and representatives from the college and school sectors.

Tommy Laughlin will speak about the IT and digital skills gap for trade body ScotlandIS. He said: “We’re looking for many more people to join the industry through modern apprenticeships, from college and university and by changing career. Currently about 3-4,000 people start new careers in the industry each year - but that’s not even half the people we need so closing the skills gap is a major challenge.”

* The Apprentice: building a strong skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland is at The National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh, Tuesday 19th May

www.scotsmanconferences.com Booking - 0131 311 7237