At Action for Children Scotland, we annually support over 14,000 of the country’s most disadvantaged children, young people and families. Our service delivery ranges from intensive family support and short breaks for disabled children to working with young offenders to reduce the likelihood of re-offending and supporting young people into employment.
This year we are marking a significant landmark in delivering employability support to young people in Scotland. Back in 2006, we first added employability support to our range of services with the launch of Youthbuild, a construction-based training programme.
Youthbuild was developed to tackle a specific issue we had identified. Through our work with young offenders, we had supported them to turn their lives around.
However, a problem remained: a lack of employability options available to them. The Youthbuild programme was able to give these young people the skills and knowledge to get them job-ready as well as giving them a chance.
Since then our employability offering has grown to include 11 services across Scotland with over 1,000 people seeking employability support from us in the last calendar year.
Our employability support offering is not just CV building and interview preparation. Instead, it provides young people with first-hand experience of working in industry and also gives them the certification to step onto building sites.
We have ensured the emphasis is firmly placed on making sure young people learn transferable skills. Youthbuild led the way in that regard, offering nationally recognised construction certification, personal development as well employability sessions.
Furthermore, 26 of the 34-week programme is spent with employers, giving the young people a real hands-on experience of the industry they are looking to find employment in.
As a result, these young people have been able to experience working on building sites across Scotland, including a series of iconic buildings such as the SSE Hydro as and facilities used during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Earlier this year, three young people supported by Youthbuild were recognised for their efforts at the Young Builder of the Year Awards held at the House of Commons. Chloe MacDonald, who now works for a painter and decorator firm in Clydebank, was the winner of the new 14 to 18 years award. In the same category, Marc Lambert finished second while Luke Wilson was one of four young people commended.
We have also made a series of policy calls to the Scottish Government which have been accepted by Jamie Hepburn, the minister for employability and training. We urged the Scottish Government to ensure that all employment support recognises the additional challenges faced by disadvantaged young people. We called for all support to be flexible and tailored to best meet their needs and is responsive to their hopes and aspirations, all of which must also be built into apprenticeships.
Finally, we said that funding from the Apprenticeship Levy should specifically provide apprenticeships that offer the sustained practical, social and emotional employment support that the most disadvantaged young people need.
As we mark ten years of deliver employability support in Scotland, we can reflect on the difference we have made to the lives of thousands of young people the length and breadth of Scotland. In the next year, we expect to extend our employability service reach to over 2,500 young Scots.
In the last ten years we have given thousands of young people the skills and knowledge required to make, what is, a very important step.
We recognise there is still a lot of work to be done and we are in regular engagement with the Scottish Government to influence policy change that will benefit young people in Scotland.
Paul Carberry, director of Action for Children Scotland