Developing Young Workforce (DYW) is an employer led, regional group (as part of a national initiative and the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment strategy), set up to connect local employers with schools and young people. Heather Brown, an Employability Coordinator at Fife Council and part of the DYW team in Fife, explains the many benefits of the programme for businesses, schools, communities and, of course, young people in Fife.
“In my role with Developing Young Workforce (DYW), I meet and work with local businesses and employers to find out where and how they can make a difference to young people and how best to connect with them, in partnership with schools.
For me, DYW is a business led partnership between employers and education. It’s now a tried and tested way to bridge the gap between school and employment with a spectrum of flexible activity which works differently for every business and school we work with. It is a hugely rewarding initiative and the infinitely flexible nature of ways businesses can engage with the programme, along with the support from schools and the DYW team, make it easy. With strong teams across all 18 secondary schools in Fife and a rich network of partnerships, we can ensure cohesion and end to end management for businesses.
When we meet employers, I find that there is generally a real appetite to get involved, though perhaps some reservations about how it might work. My job is then to help each employer understand the many flexible ways that they can both add value to the school and it’s pupils (in terms of supporting a drive to increase awareness and understanding of the world of work), but also to explore what they might want out of the experience for the benefit of their business.
With an ageing workforce as a very real consideration for local employers, we support businesses as they engage local talent and use their insight and experience to encourage the workforce of the future. We have a fantastic business community in Fife – a vibrant and exciting array of businesses across many sectors and a wonderful group of business leaders with interesting stories and experiences to share, all of which add so much to the way in which young people in Fife understand and aspire to working life.
Through DYW, businesses get a chance to influence young people, to set the scene for work and real-life industry and will often find that they also get an insight into the ideas, beliefs or barriers young people face when they consider transitioning into the world of work. This, in itself, is an opportunity to understand the next generation of talent and refresh their thinking, which shouldn’t be missed. From the types of role available in each business to understanding how an industry operates or even how best to apply for jobs in a specific sector, it can be an extremely powerful and illuminating experience for both parties.
One of the aims of the programme for businesses is to develop relationships and insight which offer added value, cost savings and maximised efficiency for businesses. At first, some businesses may worry about how they can get involved and don’t want to get a session ‘wrong’. Though, the DYW team are there every step of the way to ensure that businesses feel supported and it’s an enjoyable and worthwhile opportunity for everyone involved.
Fife is a geographically big area and there are varying needs and desires across the region. In addition, it must be noted that we do not underestimate the challenges ahead for Fife businesses due to the current climate. We’re working with everyone from East Fife Joinery and Sainsbury’s to Fife Fabrications, Costa Coffee, or Purvis Group. At Queen Anne High School, for example, Johnny Bisset from JDB Property Services has delivered multiple sessions and, according to our pupil feedback, is having a big effect on the young people attending those sessions. A down to earth, friendly and open character, Johnny has been both entertaining and refreshingly honest, giving attendees a very real and direct account of both his experience and what he expects from his employees. This has proven to be a very different way for pupils to hear the messages, which are also being given to them by teachers. However, the connection he has built with the group and their respect for him, speaks volumes about the reason why this programme is so valuable.
There are so many reasons to get involved, from improved talent pipelines to building community connections, upskilling staff or raising the profile of both your business and industry locally. There are a team of people just waiting to support your journey with DYW, and I am proud to be a part of that opportunity for Fife businesses.”