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Careers advice pilot for Shetland

Listening intently - Fair work secretary Roseanna Cunningham in discussion with pupils Harry Bedding (partially obscured), Iona Spence and Ellie Ratter at Brae High School on Wednesday - Photos: Chris Cope/ShetNews

SHETLAND will act as a guinea pig for a new £1.5m Scottish Government scheme that will extend careers advice to secondary one pupils.

Fair work, skills and training cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham revealed the news while touring Brae’s primary and secondary schools on Wednesday morning.

The scheme, which aims to give young Scottish pupils a better understanding of possible career paths, will be initially tested in Shetland, Dundee, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire.

It is expected that the results of the pilot project will then be fed back to the government as they roll the scheme out across the whole of the country in partnership with Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

In addition to having more engagement with younger pupils, extra face-to-face advice will be given to youths and parents ahead of picking senior school subjects.

“It’s really about making sure that before they make their final choices about subjects in their senior years they learn what opportunities are available and that they don’t accidentally close doors that don’t need to be closed,” Cunningham said during her tour of Brae school.

Having a laugh - Roseanna Cunningham at Brae school on Wednesday.

The government minister visited Brae as part of a two-day trip to Shetland.

On Tuesday she met budding apprentices at marine business Ocean Kinetics – young people who exemplified the need for earlier career advice, she said.

“Shetland is a really interesting jobs market, because in a sense it’s quite close to full employment. There isn’t a lot of unemployment, which is not to say there aren’t unemployed people who still need help and guidance.

“Speaking to business owners, one of their big challenges is recruitment and how young people are being guided into what jobs that are available.

“I spoke to young apprentices at Ocean Kinetics and some of them had made decisions earlier in their school years which they had to change later on, so there were examples of precisely the kind of thing we’ve been talking about in terms of careers advice.

“I’ve had discussions about what training possibilities there are. And there’s skills shortages in Shetland, so there are huge opportunities for people if they make the right decisions about what part of industry to go into.”

Brae High School head teacher Colin Kirkness added that extended career advice is something they have been wanting for “years”.

“Some of the things in today’s announcement have certainly been on our radar for some time,” he said.

“We’ve been in local discussions with SDS about getting more face-to-face interviews, so I think it’s great.

“I think it will make a positive difference to our pupils and the pupils of Shetland.”

The £1.5m being placed into the project is part of a wider £16.6m fund that has been allocated to the Scottish Government’s youth employment strategy, which is entitled Developing Young Workforce.

Cunningham’s whistle-stop tour of Shetland meanwhile saw the SNP minister also visit the burgeoning Lerwick Brewery, which the MSP praised for its “admirable” female leadership from head brewer Rhanna Turberville.

She is also visiting the Shetland Island Council’s skill-developing Bridges Project and Shetland Arts.