Bob Garmory, Director of Purvis Group, has many years of experience in both championing and supporting employability programmes in Fife, from Purvis Group’s involvement in an employability programme at Lochgelly High School over the last 10 years, to his role as a Member of the Fife Chamber of Commerce Board as they worked to bring the DYW programme to Fife and, most recently, as Chairman of the Developing Young Workforce (Fife) Board. Bob explains how DYW (Fife) aims to ignite powerful connections for everyone involved.
“I am a Fifer, through and through. I grew up here, I work here and Purvis Group employs over 400 Fife-based staff. Through the links Purvis Group had to the original employability programme at Lochgelly High School, I witnessed the benefits it had for the kids because of the interventions by employers and it made a big impression on me. It seemed a logical step to broaden my commitment, not just to employability but also to Fife in general, when DYW became the structure and vehicle for the school system to access the skills that exist in local businesses and employers to help young people to develop.
DYW (Fife) helps local employers to build better links into local schools and communities. It offers a clear pipeline of talent for businesses and creates access to positive career experiences for young people. It helps to build real relationships between businesses, schools and parents and raises awareness of your business in the local community, offering insight into how you can connect with young people.
At Purvis Group, we’ve always taken on local people as apprentices. Working with schools, as we do, has made us acutely aware of the fact that young people today need to be given different support than they did 40 years ago. It creates opportunity for the business to evolve, blending different generations together in one team and creates a workplace which is fit for purpose to support today’s youth.
We know that in order to keep young people engaged, you’ve got to do more than give them a wage. Businesses must modify how they look at attracting talent, the messaging they use, the medium they use and fortunately, we’ve got a team who are keen to do that. There are many talented young people out there, all businesses must adapt to encourage them to join us.
Of course, every business who wants to work with DYW (Fife) has to find the right amount of intervention/time/effort that they can sustain – there’s no one size fits all. The key for me is long-term engagement and for both employees and young people – it’s a mutually beneficial cycle of giving back. We live in a world where any company that wishes to grow, has to do so by attracting talent. The talent that Fife employers need to attract to protect the future of their business is sitting behind a desk in school at the moment.
Emotionally, many of the young people we meet initially are unsure of themselves. Maybe they haven’t had much in the way of encouragement throughout their life to make their talents work for them. They’re quite often taken aback by people from the world of work and are unsure of what to expect. When they realise that we come from the same place as them and perhaps have similar backgrounds, family experiences or struggles, it helps them to understand that the journey everyone is on, is the same. In turn, this makes our business experiences or successes more attainable and within their power to achieve. I suppose it’s also about trying to make sure that young people in Fife don’t accept second best and seize every opportunity to make their mark in whatever business or sector interests them.
There are a broad spectrum of businesses who keep coming back to work with DYW (Fife), time after time, with some truly wonderful interventions being undertaken across the length and breadth of Fife.
I get a great deal of pleasure when I think we’re contributing in some small way to helping local kids to realise their potential. Whenever I talk to them about their ambitions and needs, I always think about how we can improve our society. From CR Smith or Fife Fabrications to Barclays or Dynamic Ems to JDB Decorating, we are working with a diverse range of companies, sectors and individuals who are working to help young people become more employable. The potential for DYW to ignite powerful connections from schools, to businesses, to individuals or local communities, is endless and we’re proud to be part of something which builds a better future for everyone in Fife.”