Minister for Employability and Training, MSP Jamie Hepburn spoke at e-Sgoil today
The success of Western Isles’ young people and apprentices was highlighted today (Tuesday, August 22nd) as Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training, visited e-Sgoil as part of a Developing the Outer Hebrides Young Workforce (DYW) event.
Mr Hepburn said: “It was fantastic to visit e-Sgoil and see how this new group is helping to bring employers and schools closer together, providing young people with greater opportunities to learn more about the world of work.”
Started in 2014, Developing the Young Workforce is a seven year Scottish Government programme to prepare children and young people for the world of work; its aim to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.
The Outer Hebrides DYW group, along with Orkney and Shetland DYW regional groups, was launched in June this year through Scottish Government funding of £450,000.
Speaking at e-Sgoil today, Mr Hepburn continued: “The creation of DYW Outer Hebrides Group completes the network of our 21 regional groups covering the length and breadth of Scotland.
“This type of approach will help employers in the area meet their current and future workforce needs and identify skills gaps, which will help to boost the local economy. I would encourage all local businesses and young people to get in touch with the DYW Outer Hebrides Group to see how they can benefit from this support.”
He added: “Our support for DYW groups form part of our overall commitment to building a skilled and educated workforce which includes our Modern Apprentices and a new Flexible Workforce Development Fund which will help to up-skill or re-skill employees.”
Mr Hepburn spoke with a number of Apprentices based across the Western Isles
Building on the foundations already in place for young people in school through the Curriculum of Excellence, the Developing the Young Workforce programme sees collaboration between local businesses and councils to not only expand apprentice and work-experience opportunities available, but also educate on industry desired real skills and qualifications.
Presently, young people in the Western Isles leave school with more industry standard SQA qualifications than anywhere else in Scotland – 31.2%: nearly three times the national average of 10.7%.
And, according to recent DYW data, 42% of school leavers in the Outer Hebrides leave to take up employment.
Recent DYW data also reveals that over 350 employers within the island chain, many small businesses, are interested in, or are supporting, apprenticeship opportunities; and Mr Hepburn spent time today chatting with 22 of the 56 Apprentices currently working in the Western Isles.
Commenting on the Minister’s visit. Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay said: “We would wish to thank Mr Hepburn for taking the time to come to see us and to sample the good work and initiatives taking place within e-Sgoil.
“e-Sgoil is not just for Western Isles, but for Scotland as a whole. Our vision is that all learners can experience an education enriched by digital technology and we very much appreciated the support which we have received from Scottish Government.”
Mr Mackay added: “The Comhairle remains committed to equipping our young people with the necessary skills and qualifications for their working life.”