How West Lothian College is Supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee

In August 2020, the Scottish Government announced a Young Person’s Guarantee to support young people affected by the economic impact of Covid19. Over the next two years, the guarantee aims to give all young people the chance to succeed through a job, apprenticeship, education, training or volunteering.

In February 2021, the Scottish Funding Council announced that colleges were to benefit from £10 million to help implement the guarantee. This funding is part of the £60 million announced by the Scottish Government when it launched the Young Person’s Guarantee in November 2020.

This post describes how West Lothian College is helping make the guarantee a reality.

Our pledge as a college

West Lothian College pledged support for the Young Person’s Guarantee when it was launched in November, but we had already started planning what more we could do to help young people as far back as the first lockdown in 2020.

One of the ideas we came up with was the Skills Boost, a short burst of training to connect people to jobs in industry sectors that are recruiting.

A collaboration between Edinburgh, Fife, Forth Valley and West Lothian Colleges developed this idea further, along with Accelerator HNCs (Higher National Certificate). Both are now being rolled out in all colleges across Scotland supported with the funding announced by government.

The funding for the Young Person’s Guarantee is great news for colleges and are offering a new suite of courses to young people from February to July 2021 that enhance their qualifications and skills.

  • Four Accelerator HNCs — in Accounting, Cyber Security, Marketing Communications, and Social Sciences — will allow young people to achieve a full time higher education qualification in just five months.
  • Skills Boosts — short training courses in areas like Childcare, Health and Social Care, Storage and Warehousing, Customer Care and Business — will help connect young people to job opportunities.

Connor, a student on our new HNC Accounting Accelerator, said:

I decided to apply for this accelerated qualification because it will allow me to go straight into the second year of a university course. I am the first in my immediate family that will be going to university and this course will provide me with the skillset to pursue a prosperous future.

Ellie is a student on our new HNC Marketing Communication Accelerator course. Her early thoughts are:

I am doing the course because in my job I am involved a lot in the marketing side like running the social media. I have also started a small business where I work with other small businesses to design their branding, so I figured this would help me to get the most out of that.

I can hopefully progress further. My early impressions are that the course is well set out and the lecturers have a lot of knowledge that I can take away with me. I also like the delivery of the information, I find it interesting and easy to follow, and the tasks aren’t too overwhelming. After the course I am considering going back to university to study marketing further, unless a job opportunity or modern apprenticeship arises.

In addition to the Skills Boosts and HNCs Accelerators we are offering Pathway Apprenticeships that are six-month work-based courses that give young people a chance to fast track into paid apprenticeships.

Our pledge as an employer

As well as supporting the guarantee through our courses, we pledged our support as an employer to:

  • recruit apprentices to develop our own young workforce,
  • provide work experience opportunities to young people, and
  • offer six-month paid work placements at the college through the Kickstart scheme.

Last summer we advertised for a modern apprentice to work in our HR team. We appointed 21-year-old Katie Dewar who is studying Business and Administration SCQF Level 6 while she learns on the job.

Here’s what Katie had to say about her apprenticeship so far:

My job involves providing efficient, high quality, professional administrative support. I work closely with other HR team members, as well as with managers across the college. The job covers the full range of the recruitment and selection process from advertising, shortlisting, arranging interviews to completing all contractual documentation. I manage all contact from staff and managers to the HR email inbox.

I am finding my apprenticeship really interesting. Learning through Proof Positive has been very clear and structured and allows me to work through a unit point by point. This is beneficial to do alongside work as I don’t need to spend lots of time writing a big essay, and can take time to write up a paragraph once completing something I think would contribute to my units. It is a great way of demonstrating my skills as it has helped me put into words what I do in my day to day work and show evidence to back up my skills.

My assessor is very supportive and easily contactable if I need help or guidance in my units. I don’t feel nervous about submitting work as I know the feedback will be constructive and guide me in the right direction – it’s not a straight pass or fail like other qualification submissions I have done in the past. I feel I can talk to anyone in the college for support and advice about my role and my qualification.

I have found remote working strange as I have not met most of my colleagues in person. My work colleagues have been really supportive which has really helped me settle in.

Katie’s manager, Derek O’Sullivan who is Head of HR and People Development at the college, said:

Recruiting a modern apprentice opened up a new, different part of the labour market for the college and we received a large volume of very strong applications.

The team has really benefited from Katie joining us as she is motivated, dynamic and diligent in her work. She is keen to learn, and to share her experiences from other jobs and her education which means we all benefit from fresh ideas. Her enthusiasm contributes to a positive team dynamic. It is a commitment to take on a Modern Apprentice but the investment is very worthwhile.

Making the Young Person’s Guarantee a reality

In all economic recessions colleges provide a vital lifeline to thousands of young people (and adults) impacted by job losses.

Colleges have never been more essential for young people and West Lothian College will do everything it can to help make the Young Person’s Guarantee a reality.

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