Leaving the relative security of education and entering the world of work can be an exciting and equally terrifying prospect. The workplace has changed so much over recent years, with unprecedented technological advancement opening-up to so many new career routes; it could be easy to not know which way to go. Young people need to be equipped in a totally different way than when I was leaving school!

Last year, Wood employees chose education as our global cause in recognition of the difference it makes to peoples’ lives around the world. We have always been keen to engage with young people who will soon be embarking on the world of work or going into further education, so the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme is an ideal match for our aspirations.

Our relationship with Northfield Academy in Aberdeen started when we reached out to the DYW team. Our previous approach had been for employees to establish relationships with schools due to personal connections. This is something we continue to encourage, but we also wanted to achieve a more strategic approach to how we engage with schools to add greater value to our local community.

Our partnership with Northfield Academy has succeeded in giving access to interaction with Wood for every year in the school, from S1 right through to S6. To meet the objectives of the partnership, Wood and Northfield established a calendar of events that targeted pupils in all years.

These included: STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sessions for S1; the chance for all S2 pupils to visit Wood offices to find out more about the business environment and complete a STEM activity. A careers fair with support for their Young Enterprise project – more on that below, advice on CVs and personal statements for S3 pupils. It also included sessions for all in S4 to provide advice on applications and interview techniques along with mentoring for 12 pupils in S5 and S6 offering career guidance and advice and classroom workshops.

In parallel, we are also connected to Northfield through the Young Enterprise scheme which has allowed us to further develop the business acumen of some of the pupils. Last year, Northfield’s team ‘Lite’ won the Grampian finals for their mental health project, which aimed to make the Invisible, Visible in mental health. This is such an important subject and at Wood we have been opening up mental health and wellbeing discussions with our employees. It was fantastic to see the pupils so engaged in a topic which will hopefully enjoy much greater understanding as they progress through their careers.

We were delighted in October last year, when Northfield and Wood won the Developing the Young Workforce Award at the Children and Young People’s Services awards. It was fantastic recognition for the school, their pupils and our employees who all worked so hard to make the partnership a success.

I know that our relationship with Northfield is very rewarding for my colleagues, and I hope it’s going some way to equipping the pupils with skills and know-how, which they might need to grow their career. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the school with more events planned during 2019.