The Dundee and Angus group of Developing the Young Workforce plays a vital role in cutting joblessness among young people.
In the last academic year alone, the local team engaged with over 3,500 youngsters, bringing them career inspiration and increasing their chances of getting a job when they leave education.
It one of 21 DYW regional groups north of the border which help implement the Scottish Government’s strategy to slash youth unemployment and help young people get the right skills and experience to move from education into employment.
Hilary Roberts, manager of DYW Dundee and Angus, said the aim of the bodies was to help reduce 2014 levels of youth unemployment by 40% by 2021.
She added: “This target was achieved way ahead of that date, but of course has since been affected by the impact of coronavirus.”
DYW Dundee and Angus provides employer-led career-inspiration activity for young people, building partnerships between education and industry, and promoting positive career pathways such as apprenticeships.
There is a team of five at the local group, which has an employer-led board.
Hilary said: “We work closely with partners in both local authorities, Skills Development Scotland, and third-sector organisations such as Barnardo’s Works, giving a joined-up approach to providing youth employability services in the area.
“We are always on the lookout for local businesses who are willing to give up a little bit of time to help inspire the next generation, through offering apprenticeships or work experience, giving talks, attending careers events, or setting work-based projects and challenges for young people.”
Hilary said that, as well as helping young people into employment, the group brings benefits to businesses.
“We work with local industry to identify where there are skills gaps, and what we can do to fill these gaps.
“We give businesses the opportunity to influence what is being taught in schools and further/higher education, so that the young people leave education with the skills they need.
“This keeps young people in the area, and also keeps business here because there is a good pipeline of talent for them to fill vacancies.
“A good example of this is the Dundee Digital Forum we recently established – working with public and private partners to increase the digital skills base across the area.
“This is an approach that has been welcomed by successful local businesses such as Waracle.”
Hilary said her group has worked hard to make sure that every secondary school in the area has a strong partnership with at least one large, local business that can provide input across different areas of the curriculum.
“Pupils have been offered work experience, an apprenticeship, or even full-time employment through this relationship.
“Some of our in-school project working has been very successful. For example, an annual project we work on with Journeycall and Arbroath Academy business studies department has led to more pupils wanting to take business studies as a subject choice just so they can take part.”
Hilary said much of her group’s day-to-day activity has been affected by coronavirus.
“A lot of our work was around getting businesses into schools to work with classes on projects, organising careers events, site visits and work experience – none of which can happen at the moment.
“However, we have been very quick to respond to the restrictions and have moved as much of our activity online as possible.
“For example, locally we are producing a series of career-inspiration films – local people have been sending us videos of them talking about their career and the skills needed. These can be used by schools and are being posted on our social media.”
Hilary said her group won’t truly be able to get back to “business as usual” until restrictions are eased substantially and they can get businesses into schools, and pupils out into industry.
She added: “Who knows when that might happen? So for the moment we continue to look at innovative ways of delivering support to young people and employers.”
Hilary said the Scottish Government recently announced extra funding for DYW to have a DYW co-ordinator in every secondary school.
“This will give us the ability to work more closely with schools and embed DYW activity into the curriculum.”
On the subject of opportunities for her group in the years to come, Hilary said the Scottish Government recently announced the introduction of the Youth Guarantee to give young people the chance to succeed despite the economic impact of the virus.
“This will ensure that every young person aged 16-24 will have the opportunity of work, training or education.
“This opens up a whole world of opportunity for young people with increased chances to get to college, get a job or an apprenticeship.
“The DYW regional groups will play an integral part in the role of the Youth Guarantee and we are really looking forward to seeing the impact this will make.”