Jobs For All Our Young Folk Is Ambition For 2021

Published in the Executive Magazine November 13th 2018

Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive, Inverness Chamber of Commerce

As we approach the end of the Year of Young People, it is a good time to look back and review the work Inverness Chamber of Commerce has done on behalf of our future workforce.

One of our main projects during 2018 was delivering the Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce Programme for Inverness and Central Highland (DYWICH). Now in its second year, this important project is bringing about real and lasting cultural change for the region’s young people, their parents, teachers and SMEs.

The Inverness & Central Highland group consists of private and public employers, education and career specialists. The programme is aimed at improving career and learning opportunities for our young people through the creation of employer-led groups to create a culture of real partnership between employers and education.

Supported by an operations team, the group has been engaging with schools, colleges and employers to provide young people with more information about likely careers, experience in the workplace and apprenticeships as well as co-ordinating actions that realise more job opportunities for our young people.

Following on from the success of the first year, the team built on the relationships and partnerships it made and saw an increase in all participants and young people benefitting from the employability activity run by schools, colleges and supported by employers.

This year to date we have already been involved in 64 events and contributed to more than 400 employers being registered to provide work experience opportunities for schools in our area.  Over 3,400 pupils experienced some type of employability event, including more than 1,000 P7, S1, S2 & S3 pupils.

We also recruited and facilitated 152 employers for work experience and other school support activities.

During the year there was a ten per cent increase in modern apprenticeships and two young people found work with the DYWICH team.

As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, DYWICH partnered with Inverness College UHI and Skills Development Scotland to deliver the Highland Apprenticeship Showcase.

The event reflected the growing popularity of work-based learning routes into employment and helped raise awareness of the potential career pathways available within the Highlands. Over 1,000 pupils, students, teachers and parents attended and 76 per cent of young people said they would consider an apprenticeship in the future.

The progress being made by Developing the Young Workforce was discussed recently at the Business in the Parliament Conference, which was addressed by the First Minister. Scottish Chambers of Commerce is on the conference working group and I participated along with other chief executives and presidents in the chamber network.

We’re delighted that the Scottish Government recognises the fantastic work the 21 employer-led regional groups have delivered since being established by extending the programme by a further two years to March 2021.  The DYWICH team and Inverness Chamber of Commerce look forward to developing the programme and delivering for the young people of Inverness and the Central Highlands.

Our DYWICH strategy for 2018-2021 has a vision of zero per cent youth unemployment in the city and across the Highlands, which is a realistic target if we all work together.