Over 380 students from 83 schools in eight local authority areas across Scotland* celebrated completing the Career Ready programme during a special ceremony at Perth Concert Hall.
Career Ready links employers with schools to open up the world of work to young people. Offering a structured programme for 15-18 year olds, they rely on employers such as Diageo to deliver the four key pillars of activity – mentoring, internships, masterclasses and workplace visits.
Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, said: “The Career Ready programme provides fantastic opportunities for young people to learn new skills and have workplace experience which will support them in their career aspirations – in line with our Developing the Young Workforce aims. I congratulate all of today’s graduates on their achievement and wish them every success in their future careers.”
Designed to boost social mobility and increase employability, the Career Ready programme builds partnerships between businesses and a number of local councils to help senior pupils make career choices, giving them access to real experience through mentoring, masterclasses and a paid internship. It aims to link employers directly with local schools and young people in S5 and S6, bridging the gap between education and the work environment.
A key element of the programme is a four-week paid internship with some of Scotland’s top businesses, including Diageo, Standard Life, Morgan Stanley, Franklin Templeton Investments, SSE, Premier Inn and BP.
This year’s ceremony marked the first time that pupils from Fife and Midlothian graduated from the Career Ready programme. Anne Wexelstein, Director for Scotland at Career Ready, commented: “Celebrating all the achievements of these young people who are graduating from our programme this year is a very special thing for us to do.
“We’re grateful to all the employers who have engaged with them in a number of ways over the past two years to set so many talented young people up for great futures on leaving school and for so many of them, futures they did not imagine possible when they started out on their Career Ready programme. Without our employer supporters, we could not do what we do for the growing number of students benefiting year on year, and we look forward to more employers joining our expanding network as they benefit so much too.”
Sandy Begbie, Chief People Officer at Standard Life and Career Ready Scottish Advisory Board Chair and Trustee, added: “Career Ready graduates are well prepared for the future. They make a really positive impression on those of us who are privileged to be involved, both personally as well as in our businesses. Our people who mentor and work with them during their internships, use their skills and are challenged to think differently. Being part of Career Ready helps us build links with the future talent that we want to choose to work for us. It is a real win, win.”
In addition to celebrating the most recent tranche of graduates, the ceremony rewarded those who excelled throughout the programme with a selection of special awards.
The Scottish winner of The Sir Winfried Bischoff Student of the Year Award, Cara Leigh Brown from Kinross High School, credits her new found confidence to the programme: “Joining the Career Ready course was the best decision I ever made; before I joined I had very little confidence and was going down a career path that wasn’t entirely right for me, but with the guidance and encouragement of my mentor I discovered my strengths and the courage to work towards achieving my dream job.
“The course made me realise my full potential and quite honestly changed my life for the better – winning The Sir Winfried Bischoff Student of the Year Award is the cherry on top of the cake!”
*Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow, Midlothian, Moray, and Perth & Kinross.