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Dumfries and Galloway: Supporting Your Ambition Event

Author: Lesley Sloan, Curriculum Support Officer - Dumfries & Galloway Council

Image from the Supporting Your Ambition event

Supporting Your Ambition was a one-day conference, bringing together a wide range of partners to support and advise young people on careers, further education and training in the land based industries and creative sector. Parallel activities allowed pupil support staff, Head Teachers and other relevant officers to update and inform their practice.

The event, which took place in March 2014, aimed to give young people aged 15 - 25 years up to date advice and information on career and further education/training choices, and to provide a platform for them to have their say about future services and events designed to support them in making career decisions.

The event was developed by Dumfries & Galloway Education Services through the Creative Learning Network (CLN) in partnership with the Employability and Skills Service in response to focus group feedback gathered in last year’s CLN programme.

     

    Delivery partners brought together for the event were: LANTRA, Chamber of Arts, Community Learning and Development, Skills Development Scotland, University of Glasgow and West of Scotland, Dumfries College, Holywood Trust, SQA, Princes Trust & Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Barony College, DWP, Young Scot/Creative Scotland/Creative and Cultural Skills, Modern Apprentices co-ordinator DGC and Local Employers such as the Aston Hotel Dumfries.

    Maximising potential through partnership

    Through joint planning, the partners were able to create an event which was innovative in scope and scale and which capitalised on existing strategic partnerships. For the Employability Service, land based industries was an area of focus, and the CLN has close links with arts partners through its partnership with the Chamber of Arts.

    By sharing their time and resources and creating realistic and joint expectations, whilst putting faith into a new partnership, they were able to create a multi-faceted event and develop new ways of working to support employability.

    Developing creativity skills in young people

    Participants were encouraged to be open-minded about the offer of the day, and to reflect on their own needs, skills and talents. They were engaged in continuous dialogue with a wide range of professionals in order to understand better what their next steps might be – further/higher education, training or employment.

    Participants were also asked to share their ambitions for young people in Dumfries and Galloway and identify barriers affecting their decision making process; they confidently shared their views throughout the day.

    The enthusiasm of speakers and facilitators created a real buzz which had a knock on effect for young people and other participants in terms of their own motivation and ambition for change.

    “Dumfries and Galloway Council is leading on ensuring that our education and skills provision links directly to the workforce needs of our local employers.  Events such as this which bring together employers, young people and their career supporters help us to make sure that our young people are well prepared to become our region’s workforce for the future. Similarly young people become aware of the opportunities available here in Dumfries and Galloway and begin to understand what skills and attitudes employers’ value in their employees.” - Lynne Burgess, Employability and Skills Service

    “We truly wanted to get to the crux of what young people were thinking about their future careers and to listen and talk to them about some of the difficulties they encounter when making such big decisions. The feedback from the day gives us a clear picture of this and will help us move forward in how we practically support young people in Dumfries and Galloway.”- Lesley Sloan, Curriculum and School Improvement Team

    What difference has the event made?

    Further joint planning and information sharing is already taking place between Education and Employability Services and CLD who learned that young people really need their support and understanding of the pressures they feel trying to make their way in the world.

    A hugely positive outcome of this project has been the strong partnership and close bond created by departments coming together who all are working for the good of the young people.

    Although it is too early to say whether the event will have a direct impact on young people taking up further/higher education places, the organising partners hope that the event will attract more modern apprenticeship opportunities to the region through the MA Co-ordinator for Young Scot/Creative Scotland/Creative & Cultural Skills as well as increased numbers of young people taking up local job/training opportunities.

    Next steps

    Building on the partnership this year, the Employability and Education Services will continue to work together to plan for a similar event for 2015. Based on the feedback from this year, they are working towards a mini Scottish Learning Festival style event with a wider range of employers, partners, training and further education providers to support and advise young people. Together, they will create a bank of employers with a series of short film clips that will support young people in their decision-making. They will also create some promotional material based on people from the region who have ‘made it’ to inspire young people to be ambitious and think beyond their original expectations. Follow up meetings are being arranged with the DG Modern Apprentice Co-ordinator and the Creative Scotland MA Co-ordindator to examine:

    • opportunities that have been taken up and
    • opportunities to be explored with creative partners.

    The Employability Service is also working on developing a regional employability award.