A group of former pupils deemed ‘at risk’ are building a new future for themselves thanks to a scheme that helps them to learn new job skills.
The teenagers, from Balwearie High School who were feared to be slipping through the net, with issues such as low attendance and not engaging with the school curriculum.
They now turned their lives around by completing the construction academy at the Skills Development Centre in Kirkcaldy.
The academies are delivered by the Fife Council funded Fife Job Contract.
It seeks to address high levels of unemployment and to reduce the skills gap within industry sectors.
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Candidates gain relevant skills and knowledge of the construction industry – and the success of these ensure young people have the support and assistance they need from start to finish as they get on the career ladder.
Margaret Johnstone, support services co-ordinator at Balwearie High School, runs the project with the council’s employability team.} She remarked on the transformation the former pupils have made.
“The way the boys have changed is outstanding,” she said.
“You can see the confidence in them – they always had their heads down and wouldn’t engage with anyone. Now they engage positively with everyone that they meet.”
Andy Brown, Skills Development Centres locality response team co-ordinator, said: “The academy is an engagement programme for young people leaving school who are at risk of no positive destination, and no clear goal of what they want to do with their life.
“They work alongside instructors who train tradesmen everyday, so they are getting high level training, experience and qualifications.”
The teens, who are all going on to further education with Fife College and Elmwood College in Cupar, have all praised the work of Margaret and the Skills Development Centre team.
Shaun Smedley (16) said: “If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have this opportunity.
“We were all scared of what would happen when school finished. She has set up our lives for us and given us something to focus on.”