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Developing the Young Workforce – a local parent’s perspective

Updated: Oct 21, 2018

Arlene Nicol is the Project Liaison Officer for the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Regional Group as well as a parent of two children who attend secondary school within West Lothian. Arlene gave us her perspective on the importance of young people interacting with industry while still at school.

“When I was in school in the late 1980s, the nearest thing I experienced to Developing the Young Workforce was a quick meeting with the Deputy Head whilst in S5, who advised me that I didn’t need to worry about the world of work since I would be going to university. Whilst we have moved on from these days, I feel that it is vital that schools are given the resource and support to provide pupils with as much targeted exposure to industry - and the world of work - as possible. In my opinion, young people need to understand the skills and qualities employers are looking for in their future workforce, where skills gaps lie and the vast number of opportunities there are in all industry sectors.

Having worked in a number of industries throughout my adult life and having met numerous young people starting out on their career journey, I can honestly say that the majority of young people who have had some form of exposure to the world of work whilst at school- whether it be a part time job, voluntary work, work placements or internships - are more confident, more aware of employer expectations and generally more ‘work savvy’.

My kids (one in S2 and one in S4) are now starting to think about what they would like to do when they leave school. As a parent, it is important to me that they understand the vast number of options available to them. Kids can have a tendency to think about those jobs that are well known in society- doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, plumber, policeman etc. Whilst these careers are vital and the right choice from some, the number of other industries - and opportunities therein - is mind-boggling.

I feel that the HE route is perfect for many young people; however, I also strongly believe that work-based learning is an equally valuable path. I have to admit that, until a couple of years ago, I had no clue about the variety of Modern Apprenticeships available to young people- from Cyber Security to Healthcare to Engineering. I used to think that Modern Apprenticeships were only relevant if kids wanted to be a plumber or electrician. Having gone to university myself, I wish there had been the opportunity to study as a Graduate Apprentice whilst working- no debts and earning at the same time!”

If you would like to find out more about DYW or get involved, please contact:

First published in Konect September 2018

Author: Developing the Young Workforce West Lothian


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