Opportunities for All

Volunteering is a proven way of boosting someone's employability.

icon employabilityEmployers no longer make a decision on someone based on their academic qualifications – in fact one survey found 87% of employers said volunteering was a 'significant factor' when hiring.

Volunteering can improve employability through building confidence, developing 'soft' skills such as team work and communication, advancing 'hard' skills such as language, IT and management, and demonstrating job readiness to potential employers.

In the Scottish Borders and elsewhere in Scotland there are schemes bringing hope to young people whose circumstances are threatening to exclude them from mainstream life. "Opportunities for All" is the Scottish Government's commitment to young people in Scotland that offers every 16 to 19 year old a place in education or training giving them an opportunity to improve their chances of sustainable employment. It also ensures that the post-16 system focuses on supporting those at risk of disengaging and those who have already done so.

Scottish Borders Youth Employment Activity Plan (YEAP) provides information on learning, training and support for the journey into work and is a guide for young people and those who support them. The YEAP provides a simple route map highlighting local provision to support young people into employment through a staged process, at the core of which is the identification of individual need. This provision is mapped against the employability pipeline stages 1- 5 and gives practitioners throughout the Scottish Borders key information to help them in their day to day contact with young people.

Click on titles below to read more..

Stage I – Referral / Initial Engagement

Stage 1 interventions are designed for our most vulnerable young people. Many young people experience disrupted school education for a wide range of reasons. This may result in poor educational outcomes; a significant disadvantage in the labour market, irrespective of economic conditions. Re-engagement with education and training for this group is a critical step in the route to sustained employment. Such re-engagement often requires a wide ranging package of intensive, often prolonged, support tailored to the needs of the individual.

This pipeline stage is about reaching out to individuals, supporting people into regular activity and positive routines, and helping them to connect with others.

Examples of activities
Outreach Activities
Identification and Assessment of Needs
Development of Personalised Action Plan

Example of Programmes
Activity Agreements

Stage II – Barrier Removal

At this stage, young people still require a significant level of support to help them to remain engaged and move forward in terms of meeting their educational, skills, personal and social development needs.
This stage sees a range of partners assessing the initial needs of clients and agreeing key activities to be undertaken with them in order to address any barriers to employment or training.

Example of Activities
Confidence Building
Vocational Rehabilitation
Careers Information Advice and Guidance
Financial Advice and Support
Improving Health and Wellbeing
Peer Support & Mentoring

Example of Programmes
Activity Agreements
Community-Based Learning
Core Skills/ Adult Literacies
SDS Individual Learning Accounts
Employability Fund
• Work Programme

Stage III – Vocational Activity / Non-Advanced Further Education

 Stage 3 programmes have a specific employability focus and are usually designed for young people who are close to the labour market but require to brush up on their general employability skills, develop some sector specific skills and potentially gain some work experience of the workplace.

Stage 3 activities include delivering a range of accredited training, employability training for core skills, job search advice and activities to raise awareness of enterprise and entrepreneurship in order to meet the needs of individuals.

Examples of Activities
Employability Skills Development
Vocational Training
Work Experience
Self-Employment and Enterprise Support

Examples of Programmes
Certificate of Work Readiness
Employability Fund
SDS Individual Learning Accounts
Adopt an Intern
Community Jobs Scotland
Work Programme
Work Choice

Stage IV – Employment / Advanced Further Education

Programmes at this stage are designed for young people who are job ready and require support to access appropriate employment.

This stage includes activities such as arranging work or volunteer placements with employer, assisting individuals to secure job vacancies and matching job-ready clients to jobs.

Examples of Activities
Careers Information Advice and Guidance
Employer Engagement
Job Search Support
Job Matching and Brokering
Self-Employment and Enterprise Support

Examples of Programmes
Employability Fund

Community Jobs Scotland

Stage V – In Work Support / Aftercare

After a young person has found a job, continued support for them and their employer can be critical to ensure they sustain employment.

Stage 5 actives include supporting individuals to maintain and progress within the workplace.

Examples of Activities
Careers Information Advice and Guidance
Supported Employment
Occupational Health and Wellbeing Support
Vocational Rehabilitation
Skills Development
Redundancy Support
Self-Employment and Enterprise Support

Examples of Programmes
Modern Apprenticeships
DWP Wage Incentives
Flexible Traning Opportunities
SDS Individual Learning Accounts
New Enterprise Allowance
Work Programme

In the Borders, Stage I is delivered by the local authority, while the other stages are tendered out to training companies who compete for funding to provide that service.

Youth Employability – A case Study - Part 1: Activity Agreements—Taking the first step

"Activity Agreements work because they are so closely tailored to the needs of the individual"

Hannah (not a real name) is 16 and typical of one of the young people who might be offered an Activity Agreement. She suffered a very difficult childhood and found primary and secondary education increasingly challenging, eventually disengaging from school in S3. At school she was bullied and her lack of confidence and self-esteem spiralled into anxiety attacks, angry behaviour and self harming. A school Joint Action Agency Team assessed her to be at risk and, with encouragement from Emma, she was referred to an Activity Agreement.
Hannah was allocated a Trusted Professional who met her weekly for an initial 'assessment of need'. With encouragement and support, Hannah was able to articulate her hopes of becoming an accountant, although she didn't think she'd ever manage it because of her lack of school qualifications. She couldn't go to the local college as her old bullies were there, so the Trusted Professional investigated alternative ways of learning. Hannah was introduced
to the idea of studying at home with the help of a tutor through Interalia, a private training provider that specialises in computing, IT, SAGE and Bookkeeping distance-learning courses. She has almost completed the Bookkeeping Level 1 course.
"Activity Agreements work because they are so closely tailored to the needs of the individual," Emma explains. "If need be, we will look at getting the young person involved with our partner agencies who specialise in addictions, mental health issues or learning difficulties." Hannah was referred to Penumbra, the mental health organisation, where she received weekly one-to-one emotional support.
Emma's team will also offer group sessions in health & wellbeing and cooking. Some of the young people have even completed six-week driving theory courses – on the basis that , if they're prone to risk-taking behaviour, learning how to drive properly will make them safer on the roads, give them another life skill and improve their job prospects.
Hannah progressed well with Interalia, and although still lacking in confidence, was soon keen to have some work experience to practice what she was learning. The Trusted Professional investigated work experience options and recommended applying, with support, for a Community Jobs Scotland vacancy through the local Social Enterprise Chamber, working in an office environment with Encompass. Hannah was very uncertain about her ability, but applied and was offered an interview. Her Trusted Professional helped her to prepare for the interview and Hannah was successful in getting the work placement.
She has now completed her Activity Agreement, has completed a SAGE Accounting course and is employed 30 hours a week .
"The Activity Agreement has helped me realise what I can achieve just from talking to someone who wants to help," Hannah said. "I am now a lot more confident and have been given the help I needed to start my career."

Youth Employability – A Case Study - Part 2: Taking the next step — Removing Barriers

'Lisa' – is 16, unemployed and receiving benefit. She's also homeless, after her mother, became unable to cope any more with her drinking and challenging behaviour. Lisa needs help with literacy and anger management. She also needs a job, but the prospects of entering paid work in her current situation, let alone starting a worthwhile career, are remote.

Lisa is typical of the young people who might qualify for support under Stage II of the Scottish Borders Strategic Skills Pipeline for 16 to 24 year olds. Because she's claiming benefit and looking for a job, she is referred to Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in Galashiels and assigned an SDS Careers Coach, who also puts her in touch with a Work Coach.
The SDS Work Coach is now at the core of Lisa's support, ensuring that she sees the Homeless Team and accompanying her to an initial assessment, discussing help for her low level of literacy and referring her to Scottish Borders Council's Community Learning and Development. The Work Coach can also organise referrals to the Penumbra Youth Project for help with anger management and Action for Children for alcohol and substance misuse. Lisa might also be encouraged to speak to a Homeless Support Worker and/or Penumbra Borders Supported Living Service.
"Throughout all this, the Work Coach will keep in touch with both the young person and the contact at each of the other agencies," explains SDS Work Coach Jacqui Sargent.
"We will work on employability skills with the young person as required. For example, we will make sure they register on My World of Work, the national careers website, and use its employability toolkit. And we might help the young person to apply for jobs or further education or by referring them on to a suitable Training Provider for Employability Fund Stage II or III."
SDS does not provide training courses for young people under these circumstances, but it will refer young people on to an Employability Fund Training Provider. Contracts are issued annually, and this year the Training Providers offering Stage II are Apex Scotland, Borders College and Momentum. Young people referred onto this stage will receive a training allowance of £55/week or will stay on their benefit of £57.35/week.
'Billy' is a previous client of Apex Scotland. He says:
"Before I went to Apex I'd had a lot of bad experiences with training. I'd got nothing from it and was as far from getting a job as ever. I knew my past behaviour didn't help – I'd been in trouble since I was 14 – but I didn't think the help I was getting was making any difference. I didn't hold out much hope when I went to Apex, but they were really good with me from the start. They treated me as a person and really took an interest in finding out about me and encouraging me. I was never any good at school but they told me about courses that I could do at college and helped me get on a computer course. I've been working now for four months and feel I've turned a corner. I know a lot of the changes in my life are down to me, but I wouldn't have been able to get where I am now without Apex helping."

Youth Employability – A Case Study - Part 3: The next step — Vocational Work & Training

Borders College is one of the local organisations that offer programmes for young people under Stage 3 of the Strategic Skills Pipeline. Others local providers can include Momentum, lifeSKILLS, Apex, the Employability Fund and SBC's Employment Support Service.

"The aim of Stage 3 is to support individuals in preparing for and sustaining employment and to progress to a job or an apprenticeship. The work experience element is the key," explains June McCredie, Skills Development Manager at Borders College.
The College offers three options at Stage 3, all involving some element of work experience:
• A vocational programme with relevant short courses
• An SVQ Level 1 in Customer Service (SCQF Level 4)
• A Certificate of Work Readiness (SCQF Level 4).
All candidates must be referred by one of the following agencies, depending upon age and circumstances: Skills Development Scotland, an EF Training Provider, College, Local Authority or Department of Work and Pensions.
The Certificate of Work Readiness is a relatively new qualification, consisting of five units - responsibilities of employment, dealing with work situations, skills for customer care, personal development and a minimum of 190 hours in a work placement.
As far as possible, the choice of placement is defined by the student's own interests. For instance, one student was keen on sport and leisure, so the College approached Eyemouth Leisure Centre to arrange a work experience placement as part of an SVQ Level 1 in Customer Service.
"We are always looking for placements," says June. "We go out to businesses; we use every option we can. But it can be really difficult because of the relatively small population of the Borders. It can be difficult to get the right person in the right placement in the right location."
Although there is no financial cost to the employer, accepting a student on placement means commitment from the employer, not just in terms of supervision, but in terms of reporting. The Certificate of Work Readiness, for instance, requires the employer to fill out a score card for the student which will help to decide whether they achieve the full certificate.
Once the placement has finished, Borders College and the other providers have to track the young people for next six months so that Skills Development Scotland can monitor their progress.

How volunteering can help –
Charlie and Stable Life
Volunteering can be invaluable in progressing to Stage 3 and beyond. Take Charlie, who had to deal with a chaotic family background, and was initially referred to Apex Borders through the Employability Fund. Soon after she started volunteering with Stable Life (see p5), it became clear that she had real empathy with other youngsters who had been referred to the centre. The managers were impressed with her work, her discretion and the way she related to the young people, and so offered her the chance to complete a peer volunteering programme, which allowed her to use her life experiences to help others who suffer from emotional and social issues. Both her Personal Development Mentor and the Managers at Stable Life have noted a marked improvement in Charlie's self-esteem and confidence since she started volunteering. Charlie is now hoping to complete a Rangers course, and the life skills that she has developed by volunteering, such as taking responsibility and working with others, will stand her in good stead for this and whatever she chooses to do in the future.

For further information on the key stages and current local providers please click here: 

Scottish Borders Youth Employment Activity Plan 2015-16 

Your local contact for Opportunities For All is: 

Emma Fairley Opportunities for All Coordinator
Children and Young Peoples Service
People Department
Scottish Borders Council.
Council Headquarters.
Newtown St. Boswells.
01835 824000
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