Ryan Hepburn is the Developing Young Workforce (Fife) Lead within Education and Children’s Services at Fife Council, leading on the DYW (Fife) agenda across Schools in the region.
“We work with a number of brilliant partners in Fife to deliver the DYW agenda, from Skills Development Scotland to Fife Council, and Fife College to various third sector organisations, and not forgetting the local businesses who engage with us. Part of my role is to sit on the DYW (Fife) Regional Group with a number of different stakeholders. I also oversee the DYW co-ordinators, mainly teachers from schools across Fife, supporting them as they work to deliver the DYW programme to young people in schools.
We want to give every young person in Fife the opportunity to make supported life choices and move onto the right pathway, helping them to become better equipped for the world of work. As a teacher myself, with a career which includes being Principal Teacher of Guidance at Madras College, I have always been passionate about looking for ways to support young people and finding opportunities to help them as they transition out of school. When DYW came along, it was a perfect fit and allowed me to explore this passion further.
An overarching aim of DYW (Fife) is to increase the employability of Fife’s young people, linking employers with schools to achieve this. One key area of focus is to support pupils with positive transitions from education into the next steps of further education or working life, which can include placements, apprenticeships or full-time jobs, depending on the path that is right for them.
This link between business and education ensures that they have guidance on (and access to) positive destinations for their next steps as they move from school into further education, or the world of work. Meeting employers face to face and hearing first-hand about working life, creates a brilliant platform for learning and opens their eyes to the many options that are out there.
Some of the most interesting experiences we see are more organic examples of engagement with the programme, which grow as the young person makes choices. For example, something which starts out as a talk from an employer at school, can lead to work experience, being part of the CR Smith Handpicked employability programme or enrolling in an apprenticeship. Being flexible in our approach to support young people and schools in whatever way they need us to, is something we are really proud of.
One of the main challenges solved by the DYW programme, is that it allows young people to make informed decisions about their future. Through our links to the business community in Fife, DYW offers insight into the world of work and improves knowledge about the multitude of pathways that are available to young people, as well as connecting businesses to young talent.
I believe that, as teachers, we have become more knowledgeable about opportunities for young people in Fife, through the relationships we are building with businesses. It allows us to put work done in the classroom into a wider context for pupils and gives us clarity on the skills these employers are looking for from the next generation of talent.
Our biggest challenge lies with those young people who are furthest from the job market and who struggle to move into a sustainable pathway after school. Some of the work we’re doing helps to support these young people and create new mechanisms for them to understand, and engage with, the world of work.
Through Developing Young Workforce and the collaborative approach taken by everyone involved in Fife, positive destinations for young people leaving school in the region have increased to 94.6% from 92.46%, according to recent figures. Though it may seem small, that 2% is massive for Fife and we have been working towards this goal for a long time. Of course, we still have lots to do to further improve, but it has been achieved by working together with strong partnerships, and this is a brilliant result for everyone across the board, but especially for our young people.”