Sir Ian Wood

Small to medium enterprises (SME’s) operating in the Aberdeen city region’s key growth sectors are being encouraged to play a bigger role in preparing the next generation for the world of work.

SME’s account for 99% of all private sector enterprises across Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs and making a big impact on the local economy. With them accounting for more than half of private sector employment and more than 40% of private sector turnover, there is a very good chance that today’s young people will make their future career in a small business.

DYW North East bridges the gap between education and employers to help all young people find fulfilling careers. The organisation has helped hundreds of organisations connect with schools, from one-off awareness raising career events through to establishing long term partnerships.

It is now calling on small to medium businesses working in the energy, digital, food and drink, agriculture, life sciences, and tourism sectors to get more involved and help ensure the workforce of tomorrow are equipped with the skills the region needs.

“Establishing links with local schools can be extremely rewarding for any business, bringing access to the talent pipeline and potential for reduced recruitment costs, continual professional development opportunities for staff, increased awareness of your sector in education and enhanced profile in the local community among other benefits,” said DYW board member Margo Milne, commercial director of SME Clark Integrated Technologies.

“There is a misconception that engagement with schools is only for larger companies with significant resources at their disposal however the reality is that career inspiration activities can take many forms. This can be as simple as arranging a visit for a small number of students through to offering apprenticeship placements as Clark IT does. In our experience, all businesses really need is help understanding how to get involved.

“As an SME, I know first-hand how important it is for the needs of your business to come first but many business owners would be pleasantly surprised to discover just how easy and rewarding it can be to take that first step towards engaging with schools; and just how much support is out there for those that do.”

The call to action has been supported by Sir Ian Wood KT GBE who sits on the DYW National Advisory Group and chaired the commission which produced the ‘Education Working for All’ report.

Sir Ian said: “There is an economic imperative for businesses of all sizes to be shaping their future workforce, profiling to young people the opportunities that exist across a range of industries. Engaging with young people, arming them with the knowledge and experiences to understand a diverse array of career pathways, supports the development of an informed, skilled labour market.

“As well as addressing a medium to long-term requirement for our economy, there are immediate benefits for SMEs. Supporting DYW efforts presents opportunities for staff development, as well as increased profile within the community and education.”