DYW celebrates school and industry leader partnership in drive to improve youth employment

L-R: Reece Woods, DYWICH school coordinator Ashley Woodhouse,Tom Nelson and Glen Urquhart High School Guidance Teacher David Humphries

A HIGHLAND organisation that connects educators with business leaders to find new routes for young people into the world of work has hailed the efforts of a local masonry specialist.

Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland (DYWICH) is celebrating the success of a partnership between Glen Urquhart High School and Tom Nelson Stonework, based in Drumnadrochit.

Reece Woods (20) first encountered Tom Nelson Stonework during his school work experience placement. The former Glen Urquhart High School pupil said: “School was ok, but I never really felt that it was the place for me. I was itching to move on. When I left at the end of S5, I went to college which was much better as I had more freedom. It felt a bit more grown up.”

After studying car mechanics for two years, however, Woods decided that this was not the industry for him and approached the company he had enjoyed working with during his placement.

He continued: “I’ve been with Tom Nelson for a year and a half now, and every day pushes me to think creatively. It’s been such an interesting industry to get involved with – working inside and outdoors, building and repairing walls and carrying out lots of stonework-related jobs.

“I think it’s important for pupils to remember that it’s ok to leave school if you feel you’re not getting what you need from it, but make sure you have some kind of plan in place. Don’t be scared to reach out to companies you have talked to about work before, because you never know where things might lead.”

According to the Scottish Government, just 21.3% of 2019/20 school leavers went into employment after finishing secondary education – falling from 28.0% the previous year. It’s through partnerships like the one between Tom Nelson and Glen Urquhart that DYWICH believes more young people can find routes to enter the world of work.

Tom Nelson said: “Although it’s often thought of as the obvious choice after school, there are a lot of young people that don’t want to go to university – or try it and discover it’s not for them. It’s important for the local community that businesses engage with and support those young people, to encourage them to stay in the area and to build up a wealth of skills and talent in the region.

“I would encourage any business, large or small, to engage with young people in their area. Not only are you able to support your local schools and community, but you are able to find new workers to join your team who are keen to learn and progress in their careers.”

Ashley Woodhouse, DYWICH school coordinator for Glen Urquhart High School, added: “Tom Nelson Stonework’s partnership with Glen Urquhart High School is a fantastic example of the great things that can happen when the worlds of business and education come together.

“At DYWICH, we are always on the lookout for any businesses that would like to engage with their local schools in order to introduce them to new industries or pass on transferrable skills that will help them in later life.

“Whether a business can offer placements and internships, or simply spare staff for an afternoon to come and talk to pupils about their industry or interview skills, everything will help young people on their journey into employment.

“Many businesses already engage with local schools, and if they want to formalise that partnership, they can sign the Young Person’s Guarantee to commit to supporting Scotland’s future workforce.”

Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland is part of a national framework of regional employer-led boards across Scotland. Formed as part of the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy, and hosted by Inverness Chamber of Commerce, the group’s aim is to develop sustainable links between schools, colleges and employers. Working in partnership with employers, DYWICH is shaping the workforce of the future and helping to better prepare young people for the world of work.

For more information about DYWICH and school engagement, visit www.dywich.co.uk or follow DYWICH on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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