Unemployed youths could solve skills shortage
Action is required to stem a skills crisis in Scotland, warns new research.
The Prince’s Trust and HSBC report suggests that more than two thirds of Scottish businesses believe a significant skills crisis will hit their organisations within the next three years (69%), while more than a third predict this will happen within the next 12 months (37%).
Nearly three quarters of Scotland’s businesses surveyed fear skills shortages will slam the brakes on the UK’s economic recovery (73%); while more than one in four fear it would cause their business to fold (27%).
The report, based on interviews with UK business leaders including those from Scotland, suggests that 71% believe that the recruitment of young people into the workforce is vital to avert a skills crisis.
More than 45% of Scottish businesses surveyed are already experiencing skills gaps within their organisations and more than a third have been unable to fill vacancies over the past year as a result (39%).
With more than a third of Scottish organisations reporting skills shortages at entry level (37%), youth charity The Prince’s Trust Scotland is calling on employers to invest in vocational training for unemployed young people in the country to avoid future skills shortages.
Allan Watt, director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, said: “It is deeply concerning that employers across Scotland are struggling to fill vacancies when we have thousands of unemployed young people who are desperate for work. The current economic recovery is encouraging, but in order to sustain this growth, Scotland needs to invest in the next generation to avoid a skills vacuum in the future.
“We believe that with the right support and investment all young people can achieve their full potential in education, work and business and create a brighter future for themselves.
“We are urging businesses to take action now to up-skill the workforce of the future to make the most of our younger generation’s talents and prevent the bubbling skills crisis from boiling over.”
In Scotland, The Prince’s Trust is working with employers like Caledonian Petroleum Services (CPS) to help unemployed young people gain the skills they need to access available jobs.
Managing director of CPS, Bob Steel, said: “An important element to the CPS’ growth has always been the development of young people through our four-year fabrication apprenticeship scheme, underpinned by one of our four core values ‘Being People Pioneer’.”
“This sits in harmony with a core mission of The Princes Trust – ‘Inspiring Young Lives’ – leading to a natural relationship between CPS and The Prince’s Trust. CPS do not offer opportunities to Prince’s Trust-supported young people because of their backgrounds, but together their experiences, character and the intense programme selection process has resulted in CPS recruiting some of its best apprentices through the charity.”
Case study: Ashley Cruickshank, 17, Portlethen, Aberdeenshire
Ashley had been out of work for five months before getting involved with The Prince’s Trust Get into Oil and Gas programme.
After leaving school, he took a job as a greenkeeper at a local golf course but unfortunately – due to the seasonal nature of the work – was made redundant. Despite applying for more than 50 vacancies, Ashley was unable to find another job.
Ashley said: “I was stuck in a rut. Everyone has days when they wake up in the morning and don’t want to do anything but, for me, it was beginning to feel like that every day. I really didn’t know what to do.”
Ashley had always been interested in breaking into the oil and gas industry but was unsure of where to start and didn’t think he had the right skills to get there. When he heard about The Prince’s Trust Get into Oil and Gas programme, he leapt at the opportunity to get involved.
Ashley said: “Oil and gas is a booming industry and it is possible to travel the world with it which is a real bonus. It was really exciting for me when I found out that The Prince’s Trust programme existed and an even better feeling when everyone was so welcoming.”
Taking part in Get into Oil and Gas has given Ashley a sense of purpose, helped with his self-confidence, given him a new set of skills and got him back into a routine again.
He said: “I really value the training I have received. I enjoyed learning to weld and the opportunity to have a go at CAD (Computer Aided Design). My work placement with CPS (Caledonian Petroleum Services) has been really good and is the type of place I would love to work in future.”
Taking part in the course also saw Ashley meet HRH The Prince of Wales on a royal visit to the Trust’s Dundee Centre.
Ashley said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard I was going to meet HRH The Prince of Wales. It is a real honour.”
“I loved my time on The Prince’s Trust Get into Oil and Gas programme but I never expected to actually meet Prince Charles! It was a brilliant experience and I can’t wait to tell my friends and family about it.”
Ashley went on to secure employment with CPS and was recently named as their Best Welding and Fabrication Apprentice of the Year.