Creating opportunities for young people

Paul Parmenter, one of this year’s Social Innovation Competition judges, runs The Workshop, a social enterprise in Aberfeldy. Below he discusses his experience, creating opportunities for young people in the area.

This year, Firstport’s Social Innovation Competition celebrates the most exciting and innovative new ideas and solutions to the challenges faced by Scotland’s young people – and I’m delighted to have been asked to help judge the entries.

Having received business support and funding from Firstport whilst setting up The Workshop, I know first hand the impact it can have.

I started setting up The Workshop back in 2014, after noticing a real lack of opportunities for young people around Aberfeldy – specifically those nearing the end of their school years. There are very few jobs available in the area and, with over an hour and a half bus ride to larger towns nearby, transport becomes an issue for those who do not drive. It is nearly impossible for many to get the opportunity to gain experience and skills for future employment.

The Workshop offers training in practical and technical manufacturing skills in wood working, engineering and laser cutting, plus office work such as digital marketing, ordering and invoicing. It is a safe environment in which to gain self-confidence and interpersonal skills at a person’s own pace.

Since starting the project we have helped a variety of young adults, from those with learning and social difficulties, to those simply wishing to gain skills ready for future employment. Each one has gone away with experience to put on their CV or a 12 week Certificate of Work Readiness promoted by Skills Development Scotland, plus a referee for future employees to contact.

Bailey is one of our success stories – he was unable to cope with the routine and standards expected of him at school, but has settled into the work so well here that we have managed to secure funding to employ him initially on a part time basis and now as a full time employee, working on the laser machines in both a design and practical role.

The Workshop has changed my life in a very positive way. It’s given me skills that I’ve never thought I’d have before - giving me hope to be able to secure my future in a job. I have enjoyed learning the core skills and have developed my confidence within the environment that the Workshop has provided. - Bailey Pearce

This impact wouldn’t have been possible without the funding and advice from Firstport. So if you’re thinking about entering the Social Innovation Competition – you’ve got until 30 July!

Find out more on the website