AN independent church and community organisation has become the first in the Highlands to sign the Young Person’s Guarantee, committing to provide employment opportunities and training to young people in its community.
King’s Inverness has teamed up with Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highland (DYWICH) to make the pledge, providing young people with work placements designed to increase employability skills.
Chris Dowling, co-pastor at King’s Inverness, said: “Putting young people first is a core value of King’s Inverness. We believe in helping the next generation to go further and achieve more than we did. But we also know that doesn’t just happen. The needs of young people today can be very complex, so we want to use our experience and resources to help them achieve their full potential.”
King’s Inverness works with local schools and training providers to offer short and medium term work placements in its coffee shops – at its King’s Factory base in Smithton and at the Bike Shed in Merkinch.
Chris continued: “We recently ran a three-week pilot project with Inverness High School to offer barista training. This involved working with Inverness Coffee Roasting, who helped share the story from bean to cup.”
“The pupils were challenged to create their own drinks and then market them over social media, before serving them to the public at a special pay-what-you-want event.|
“We have also offered childcare experiences through our parent and toddler group, Little Fishes. And we regularly visit schools to offer the CAP Money Course, which teaches pupils basic budgeting skills in order to help them handle their first proper wage.”
After opening the King’s Factory as a church, community centre and coffee shop in 2003, King’s Inverness opened Merkinch’s Bike Shed coffee shop in 2018 in partnership with a local Methodist church. The church aimed to replicate what had worked in its Smithton headquarters – providing a family-friendly community meeting point, and offering employability training to the community.
Eilidh Edgar, programme manager at DYWICH, said: “We’re thrilled that King’s Inverness has joined the growing list of organisations in the Highlands that have signed the Young Person’s Guarantee. The team at King’s Inverness is undoubtedly committed to supporting young people in the community, providing them with many incredible employment opportunities and training.”
“By signing the Young Person’s Guarantee, businesses support young people into employment – showing that there is no wrong path to the world of work, whether that is through further education, apprenticeships, placements or training.”
“Many businesses already engage with local schools and young people in their communities, and signing the guarantee allows them to formalise their commitments.”
Chris added: “Signing the Young Person’s Guarantee affirms our commitment to the young people in the communities we serve.”
“Being based in the Highlands, all local businesses have the same challenge in trying to divert young people’s eyes away from the bright lights of the Central Belt & beyond.”
“This is a great way that we can show them that there are fantastic opportunities on their doorstep. The more local businesses that get involved, the more chance we have of keeping our best and brightest talent in the North – which at a time of post-Brexit labour crisis is more important than it’s ever been.”
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 the Young Person’s Guarantee, visit www.dywich.co.uk or follow DYWICH on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.