A ground-breaking career development programme has marked a major milestone with a record number of students graduating since its inception in Scotland in 2011.
Around 500 students from 114 schools in 12 local authority areas across Scotland celebrated completing the Career Ready course during a special ceremony at Perth Concert Hall on Thursday 28 March. An 11% rise on programme completion from 2018.
Career Ready is designed to support secondary school pupils into employment by connecting schools with local employers to open up the world of work to young people. Offering a structured programme for 15-18 year olds, the programme relies on employers to deliver the four key areas of activity – mentoring, internships, masterclasses and workplace visits.
Sandy Begbie, chief transformation officer, Tesco Bank, Career Ready Scotland & National Advisory Board Chair and Trustee said: “As the many young people graduating today from the Career Ready programme look ahead, I wish each and every one them a career that nourishes their ambitions and feeds their enthusiasm and love for what they do.
“As they continue to develop their skills, knowledge and experiences, and focus their talent and capabilities, I am sure they will be very much appreciated by the organisations who are fortunate to employ them. Our young people have a significant and valuable part to play in Scotland’s future economic growth and sustainability and those of us who support them now will be there for them in the future, they are part of our network and family and will always be welcome here.”
A key element of the programme is a four-week paid internship with some of Scotland’s top businesses, including Diageo, Standard Life Aberdeen, SSE, BP and Scottish Gas. Last year, £525,000 was injected into the Scottish economy as a result of the students’ 4-week internships.
Stephen Pritchard, director of Brand Change and Engineering at Diageo, welcomed 26 pupils into the workplace through the 2017-2019 programme. He said: "The mentoring and experience offered to these students is invaluable in their career development, teaching them the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed in their future careers.”
In addition to celebrating the achievements of those graduating the programme in 2019, the ceremony gave special recognition to those who made significant progress as a result of the programme with a selection of special awards.
Niamh McConnell, chosen as the Scotland Student of the Year, said: “My mentor really pushed me to try new experiences and has been really supportive. He gave me responsibilities and positive feedback from the start.
“The thought of the internship was really daunting but I loved getting work to do and being treated like an adult. It was so different from school. I have now changed my whole career path and am doing something I would have never considered before the programme, IT and Cyber Security. It has been truly life changing!”
Her mentor Mark McKenny, from the Scottish Government, said: “From my first meeting with Niamh, I have been inspired by the enthusiasm she has shown together with a keen willingness to learn.
“Niamh worked with the Scottish Government in our Cyber Security & Defence team during her four-week Career Ready internship. She put in a huge amount of effort, ensuring she gained as much as possible from the experience.
“The future is bright for Niamh who is now undertaking an HND in ICT at college in addition to working with my team for two days a week on a permanent basis. Niamh’s attitude, effort and dedication throughout her time on the Career Ready scheme has been nothing short of exceptional. It has been an honour being her mentor.”
The Career Ready programme continues to grow, with 125 schools now involved in 13 different location authorities.
Anne Wexelstein, director for Scotland, Career Ready congratulated the graduates for their commitment and participation: “The graduation is a celebration of every student’s achievements over the past two years, and we wish them continued success as they get underway with their future careers.
“With 98% of Career Ready students going on to a positive destination, but one of the many great outcomes from Career Ready, we’re grateful to our network of employers who make this possible. By continuing to support and invest in young people, who are on the programme because they need the opportunity to expand their networks and role models from the world of work, all of these organisations and their people play a crucial role in boosting social mobility across Scotland.”
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