Bridging the gap
As the P&J’s Apprentice 100 campaign gets under way, Laura Redpath highlights the work of a new body set up by the Scottish Government. It has similar aims – one of which is to create apprentices across the north-east
From offices close to the North Sea, four women are charting a course with some of the north-east’s top business leaders and public bodies to bridge the gap between young people and the workplace.
Launched this summer, Developing Young Workforce North East (DYW) is a Scottish Government led initiative which was established in the wake of Sir Ian Wood’s Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.
The report, which was published at the end of last year, focused on young people and their employability and one of the biggest issues addressed was employment skills and the readiness of young people to enter the workplace.
With Amanda Boyle as the body’s project director, the team is made of two project managers, Jo Golder and Alex Reid, and Erin Burke, the group’s executive assistant.
One of the body’s targets is to co-ordinate activities and initiatives around the Scottish Government’s target of reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2020.
Last night, Ms Boyle said the Press and Journal’s campaign would help dispel the notion that apprenticeships were only pathways into trades such as plumbing and engineering.
Ms Boyle said: “We’ve seen bakery assistants, designers and video and communication professionals.
“If there’s one thing this campaign does, apart from reach out to lots of people and develop many more apprenticeships, is encourage and educate people about the value of apprenticeships in any profession in any sector of work.”
The board of DYW is chaired by Graham Blair, a regional director for Bank of Scotland.
In total, the board comprises of 16 people including, Rob Wallen, chief executive of North East Scotland College (NESCol); Charlie Penman, head of education services at Aberdeen City Council; and Bob MacDonald North Sea regional director of Wood Group Kenny.
There are also 22 working group members from firms across the region.
These members include Maersk Oil, Balfour Beatty, Technip and Skills Development Scotland.
DYW’s key role is to work with existing public bodies to provide a gateway for people seeking an apprenticeship and companies wishing to create apprenticeships.
One of the bodies linked with DYW is Investors in Young People, an accreditation framework, which offers companies recommendation and guidance on recruitment.
DYW also works with the local authorities and training providers such as NESCol.
Ms Boyle said: “DYW can signpost people seeking employment in the right direction.
“After speaking to us, we can do the legwork so they don’t have to phone around all the different groups.”
Giving novices training from the ground up, apprenticeships offer a fairly broad grounding with a very specific focus and are one of the most effective methods of learning how a business or sector works.”
Ms Boyle added: “It may seem unusual now, but 50 years ago this was how people came into employment.”
“Many leaders in the north-east started off as apprentices and have worked their way up to senior positions or gone to start a business of their own.
“The reason they have come so far is because they understand the skills needed to deliver to customers, and because of this, they understand the foundations of the business.”
Ms Boyle added that it was important pupils have a “positive destination” when they leave school.
She said: “It’s early days but the intention is that we enable employers to start looking and thinking about what they can offer young people.
“To have young people in the workplace who understand work ethic, team work is a positive thing for businesses.”