Engagement is key to young people’s success

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Have you heard about Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)?

It’s a Scottish Government initiative that brings employers and education together to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish in work.

The DYW West Highland team work closely with both employers and high school students throughout Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross to forge valuable connections between them.

Led by an employer board chaired by BSW Mill manager Oliver Stephen, programme director Lesley Benfield, operations manager Colleen MacLean and Lochaber DYW co-ordinator Gena MacLean are based at and hosted by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce in Fort William with colleagues Ashley Woodhouse and Lesley Hellon based in Skye and Wester Ross.

Their role is to encourage and support employers – whether big or small – to get involved with the future young workforce in their area and be the voice of business in developing activities to help young people prepare for the world of work.

Lesley Benfield, director of DYW West Highland, explains: ‘We want to create that lightbulb moment for young people – when they realise the potential they have and the opportunities there are here in the West Highlands and across Scotland for them to pursue their ambitions.’

DYW helps employers to make that vital connection with their future workforce by getting employers directly involved – organising site visits from school pupils, giving talks in schools and conducting ‘real life’ mock interviews with employers to prepare young people.

All of this involvement helps employers to identify future talent for their business but also helps to increase the knowledge about local industry opportunities for young people.

There are many ways employers can get involved with Developing the Young Workforce in the West Highlands.

  • A single participation in events such as career talks, workplace visits and mock interviews;
  • A longer term commitment to a school to provide work experience, support employability awards and foundation apprenticeships;
  • A close partnership with a school to help develop classroom curriculum and delivery in subjects that relate to their industry/sector.

Delivered through West Highland College UHI, the Foundation Apprenticeship qualification offers S5 and S6 pupils the chance to gain a Higher-grade equivalent qualification (SQA Level 6) that combines online learning with practical experience in real employment.

These university-recognised qualifications offer a unique approach to learning, with no exams at the end and the benefit of real-life experience of the subjects learned.

Around 40 S5 and S6 pupils in West Highland have applied for a Foundation Apprenticeship starting in September 2019. An employer is vital to their success in gaining the qualification.

Would your business like to be involved? DYW is looking for businesses of all types and sizes interested in providing the work-experience element of Foundation Apprenticeships for young people studying digital, creative, IT software development and business. This is typically one day a week, but schedules can be flexible to suit your business needs.

Get involved with Foundation Apprenticeships and you’ll get early access to future talent, by providing school pupils with real experience of the world of work. You’ll help them to achieve an industry-recognised qualification and help you to develop your talent pipeline.

There are no direct costs to you as an employer, you will fast-track talent development in your business, grow your business with the skills you need  and develop your staff as coaches and mentors

Give the DYW West Highland team a call on 01397 705765 to discuss how your business could help shape the next generation of talent in the West Highlands.