Fab Fife four benefit from Forestry Commission Scotland’s job scheme

From left,  Craig Cessford, Kenny Neil, Mathew Wilson and Terry Keicher
From left, Craig Cessford, Kenny Neil, Mathew Wilson and Terry Keicher

Four young people from Fife have secured new jobs after completing a range of outdoor conservation-based training, thanks to a ground-breaking project funded by Forestry Commission Scotland.

The 24-week Employment Skills Programme involved four trainees from Fife aged between 17 and 20. The group had been unemployed for several months before applying for a position with Living Solutions through Jobcentre Plus.

Living Solutions is a social enterprise and recognised charity which specialises in environmental training and volunteering opportunities.

Kenny Coyle and Mathew Wilson both of Cowdenbeath, Craig Cessford of Dalgety Bay and Terry Keicher from Ballingry undertook a range of intensive training including handling chainsaws, wood chippers and powered pole pruners.

The group also helped local communities by improving access and the condition of local Forestry Commission woodlands.

The extensive and challenging training boosted the entire group’s confidence and improved their skill sets. However, Craig, 17, who has severe dyslexia, notably overcame huge barriers thanks to the scheme.

Craig left school with little idea of what step to take next. He started volunteering with Living Solutions and woodlands manager Les Keyte soon realised his potential and recommended he apply for the programme.

At first Craig was unsure about the benefits of the course and feared the work could be dangerous. However, a few weeks in, his confidence soared and he has now secured a job with Central Forestry Landscaping as a forestry operative thanks to the skills he picked up during the course.

He said: “I have real difficulty with reading and writing so knowing what I want to do with my life has been really hard.

“However, this course has changed my life. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, made many great friends and my new skills have given me an insight into what I can do with my future.”

Kenny now works as a tree surgeon, Terry has landed a job with a landscaping company that will see him use his newly developed skills and Mathew is on route to becoming a lifeguard.

Joneen Clarke, Employment Skills Manager at the Forestry Commission Scotland: “This programme has been designed to help deliver the Scottish Government’s priority in giving our young people the best possible start and tackle head on the challenges of youth unemployment.

“The whole group has been fantastic and every one of the participants has adopted new skills and gained a huge amount of experience over the 24-week period.

“The fact the whole group have now secured jobs shows how beneficial this programme is.”

Living Solutions aims to provide young people with the necessary experience and qualifications required to secure jobs and apprenticeships in forestry and related industries.

Paul Cruise co-founder of Living Solutions said: “The trainees have come really far especially as some didn’t have any prior outdoor experience.

“They now have conservation, team working, verbal and written skills under their belts, setting them up for a prosperous future.”