Pupils given mentoring to win an edge in job market

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Pupils are to be given one-to-one business mentoring to improve their employability prospects and confidence in a bid to give them an edge on their competitors when they leave school.

Three secondaries in the Capital have been selected for a pilot scheme run by Career Academies UK, which – if successful – will be rolled out across the city.

Ten pupils from each school – Forrester, Liberton and Tynecastle – will take part in the unique programme to enable them to prepare for their futures.

Organiser Douglas Alexander, the Scottish regional manager for Career Academies UK, said: “This is about preparing kids for the world of business and the world of work.”

They will work alongside experts from companies including Clydesdale Bank, Scottish Gas, Lloyds Banking Group and JP Morgan for 18 months, culminating in a four-week paid work placement.

Headteachers and guidance staff from each school will carefully select which S5 pupils would be most suited to the programme, and the successful youngsters will get one-to-one mentoring from one of the business experts.

Mentors will give advice during frequent meetings, ranging from how to write an impressive CV and prepare for job interviews, to how to act in the workplace.

Mr Alexander said: “We chose three schools from a broad spectrum for the pilot and the idea is to target middle achieving kids who could do better.

“The aim is not to get these kids a job with that company at the end of it, though in a quarter of instances that has happened.

“The critical success factor is to raise the aspirations of young people and help them get to a level they may not have been able to get to had they not been involved in the programme.”

It is hoped the scheme will have an impact on the number of pupils entering “positive destinations” – such as education or employment – when they leave school.

Last year, 600 young people out of 3500 left school without a positive destination.

Derek Curran, headteacher of Forrester High, said: “The kids we are targeting are the ‘mid-range’ kids, some of whom might have gone on to university, but many of whom might have gone on to work in the financial sector. This is a real opportunity to get these kids into positive destinations.

“One of the real boosts of this scheme is the internship, which is paid, as it’s really difficult for schools to get that length of work experience.”

Roan Latimer, 18, enrolled on to the mentoring programme last year through Telford College. He was paired with a mentor from Clydesdale Bank and completed a work placement.

He said: “I never studied business at school, just at college, so I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge and my mentor helped me expand that.

“The internship was a great experience, though I remember being really nervous.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do before but it showed me what I liked and what I didn’t. My CV has expanded and I’m a lot more confident.”

City education leader Councillor Marilyne MacLaren added: “A number of our young people can do far more than they think they can.

“It’s about helping them to be the best they can be.”