Various development programmes can give individuals the skills and confidence to engage with the jobs market, writes Andrew Russell
Brexit is creating an uncertain future for many people in Scotland. One of the areas of greatest uncertainty is around the future employment landscape.
Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, across the UK there has been a 95 per cent fall in EU nationals joining the UK workforce, with 44 per cent of employers experiencing difficulty recruiting in 2018.
Scotland’s economy relies heavily on key sectors such as food and agriculture, and hospitality and tourism. They will be some of the hardest hit, struggling to fill the gaps that Brexit could create. Health and social care will also be hit hard with 96 per cent fewer nurses from mainland Europe having registered to work in the NHS since the referendum.
This all points to a significant labour and skills shortage that needs to be filled.
The question is, how?
Some of the answer could lie with Third Sector organisations who are supporting people to move up the employment ladder.
In Scotland, unemployment is at historically low levels but there are still many who struggle to find and keep work. This includes thousands of young people who remain long-term unemployed because they lack the basic life skills needed to work towards getting and keeping a job. However, if supported to gain the skills, qualifications, confidence and motivation to become job ready, this group of people can step into the forecasted breach in the work force post Brexit.
Engaging and ultimately unlocking the potential of individuals who have struggled at school, been unable to find or sustain work and have fallen through the cracks of mainstream employment support is a challenge, but organisations such as Venture Trust can provide an alternative learning environment which gives young people the space and attention they need to develop their confidence, learn new skills and raise their aspirations.
Venture Trust has been successfully supporting marginalised individuals through intensive personal development programmes in their communities, and in the challenging environment of the Scottish outdoors for more than 20 years. Many of those people we have supported have gone on to find work, enter training or reengage in education. The expertise and impact of Venture Trust’s “Outdoor Learning Model” has also been recognised internationally and resulted in the organisation being selected as the expert partner for a European consortium that uses the outdoors to get young people into work, education and training.
The “From Outdoors to Labour Market” project is being led by the Centre for Innovative Education and includes partners from Poland, Spain, Ireland and Scotland. It is funded through the European Economic Area and the Norwegian Grants Fund for Youth Employment.
The multi-national project aims to give nearly 1,000 unemployed young people from Poland, Spain and Ireland, the opportunities through innovative outdoor learning to develop life and professional skills that will help them find and sustain employment.
Giving people core, transferable skills in self-management, social intelligence and problem solving, means they are resilient and better able to engage with the opportunities that best suit their interests and abilities, as well as the needs of the wider employment market.
With the life skills, confidence and motivation gained from our personal development programmes, young people find a fresh sense of hope and inspiration to get started and make progress. In partnership with other Third Sector organisations, colleges, training providers and corporate partners, they are supported into work.
The impact of Brexit on the labour force is potentially a double-edged sword. Along with the drain of skilled workers, tens of thousands of Scots could also end up out of work. The Scottish Government predicts that the Scottish economy could shrink up to 7 per cent following Brexit, with up to 100,000 people losing their jobs.
In a changing employability landscape, the Third Sector and other organisations have a major role to play, ensuring people who do end up jobless develop the resilience and the reusable tools that will enable them to adapt and succeed, re-joining tomorrow’s workforce.
For more information about Venture Trust visit: www.venturetrust.org.uk
Andrew Russell is head of Programme Performance and Impact at Venture Trust.