Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire

An Ayrshire group set up to develop the young workforce in the region was launched at a conference during Ayrshire Business Week 2015.

The Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire regional group, funded by the Scottish Government, was unveiled on 6 October 2015 by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training.

The Group’s key aim is to equip young people with the skills and attitudes to help Ayrshire businesses grow and prosper. Explaining the purpose of the new group, the Cabinet Secretary said,

“We want an improved relationship between schools and employers that will allow all of our young people to progress, whatever their background or gender. Young people across Ayrshire’s three local authority areas can look forward the development of fresh career pathways to ensure they are well placed to maximise their potential.”

Launch of Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire (Jim English, Chair of Developing Young Workforce Ayrshire; Iona Murray, Microsoft Apprentice; Alan Lee Bourke, Global Cloud Delivery Executive, Microsoft; Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary Fair Work, Skills and Training; Val Russell, CEO, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce; Nicole Dunlop, Head Girl, Greenwood Academy)
Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire is being led by the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and will be supported by a dedicated team of staff. Chief Executive Val Russell said,

“Ayrshire Chamber is delighted to be leading the Ayrshire regional group. Working closely with partners in the public, private and third sectors, we will ensure that young people are equipped with the skills and attitudes required to help Ayrshire business grow and prosper.”

The Chair of the new group is Ayrshire industry leader Jim English, General Manager at Hyspec Engineering. Jim said,

“We believe in realising the full potential of our young workforce in Ayrshire through a clear and focused industry-led strategy. We hope to achieve significant change on how we go about this by working collaboratively.”

Ayrshire College is fully behind the Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire group and Vice Principal Jackie Galbraith is the vice chair of the new group. She said,

“Ayrshire College is delighted to support the new Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire group. Strengthening the links between employers and education is critical for Ayrshire’s future and will benefit young people and the regional economy.”

Membership of Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire Steering Group

The new group’s steering group is made up of representatives from the private, public and third sectors. The group met for the first time on 19 October with a great turnout from private, public and third sector employers including Ashleigh Construction, Barclays, Buzzworks, Centrestage, Dustacco, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, QTS, Sercon, Stellar, Trump Turnberry, Utopia Computers, Voca and YipWorld.

In addition all three local authorities, Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce, Ayrshire College, the Federation of Small Businesses, CeeD Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, and JobCentre Plus were represented.

Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire Steering Group
Origin of Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire

In June 2014, the final report of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce set out how to improve opportunities for young people across Scotland and the pivotal role employers should play in developing young people.

In December 2014, the Scottish Government accepted all 39 recommendations in the report and published a 7-year implementation plan in its youth employment strategy, Developing the Young Workforce. The plan outlines key themes for schools, colleges, national agencies and employers with associated actions and key performance indicators.

An important recommendation was the creation of employer led groups to provide leadership and a single point of contact between employers and education. Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire is the regional group for Ayrshire and its focus is to:

  • Encourage and support employers to engage directly with schools and colleges
  • Encourage more employers to recruit more young people.

What will Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire do?

The group aims to ensure that young people develop the skills and positive attitudes required to take the next steps towards the world of work. It will work closely with the 26 secondary and associated 137 primary schools, 11 ASN schools and all campuses of Ayrshire College.

Building on the foundations of well-established employer engagement at school and college level in Ayrshire, the group will ensure that all young people reach their full potential, nurture the confidence to develop career and vocational interests including entrepreneurship and ambition.

Activities taken forward by the group could include:

  • Encouraging employers to offer quality work experience placements for school and college students
  • Working with schools guidance teachers and career advisers to support the delivery of careers education
  • Persuading employers to recruit more young people, including Modern Apprentices
  • Simplifying engagement by working with micro and small employers, local authorities, schools and Ayrshire College
  • Establishing school/employer partnerships across in secondary schools
  • Enhancing the links between vocational education provision and needs of the local, regional and national economy
  • Promoting the Investors in Young People accolade to employers
  • Promoting the youth equality agenda to employers
  • Creating an Ambassador Programme to share best practice and celebrate success
  • Removing  barriers, perceived or otherwise, to employer engagement
  • Communicating with students, teachers, parents and employers
  • Developing an accessible and inclusive strategy to improve opportunities young people moving into the workplace

Want to know more?

If you want to find out more about Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire contact Claire Baird at the Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce by email at or visit the website  

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