THIRTY-TWO school leavers took part in two Hand Picked Academies, designed to boost their chances of being selected for one of 35 apprenticeships available at building services company FES Group.

Over the three day course, the teenagers from St Moden’s High, Wallace High, Stirling High, Alva, Lornshill, Bannockburn, Larbert and Queen Anne High School learned about the workplace, employer expectations and how to present themselves at interviews, while also taking part in a number of practical workshops.

This marks the third consecutive year of a successful collaboration between FES and Hand Picked, an employment opportunities programme run by CR Smith for young people.

While structured to help fill apprenticeships across a number of trades at FES, the course helps build confidence as the school leavers start out on their working lives.

Last year, 11 candidates on the Hand Picked course were offered an Apprenticeship with FES.

With another ten securing jobs and apprenticeships elsewhere and the rest of the attendees taking up further education places at college.

Hand Picked, which was set up by CR Smith boss, Gerard Eadie CBE, is the only employability programme of its kind run by private business.

It works with employers who recognise that they have a responsibility in helping shape the future workforce.

Approached entirely from the employers’ perspective, it teaches a young person about the jobs and skills required by businesses and how they should market themselves to prospective employers.

What makes the course stand out is that it provides the candidates with honest, robust feedback while giving them new insights and experiences of what it means to get a job and more importantly keep a job.

On completion of the three-day academy at FES, all candidates took part in an interview to be considered for one of the apprenticeships available.

Robert Wood is the contracts director at FES.

He said: “Hand Picked came to us over 2 years ago and brought with them a fresh and unique approach to support young job-seekers and create a platform for them to learn important employability skills whilst showcasing themselves to prospective employers.

"The approach is dynamic, pro-active and extremely professional.”

He continued: “We now recruit a third of our apprentices through delivery of this course, however the main benefit we see is that all candidates walk away from the experience with newly found skills that make them visibly confident in themselves as they seek employment.” 

Pauline McGeevor, Hand Picked project manager, added: “We work with like-minded employers who are prepared to step up and willing to take responsibility for Scotland’s future workforce, and our academies are entirely focused on supporting young people into jobs.

“FES has been a great partner and we are delighted to be working with them for a third successive year to provide a positive kick-start to the working lives of young people in the local community.”