The problem: youth unemployment rates

Youth unemployment remains a key priority for the UK and Scottish Government. In 2014, figures released by Scotland’s chief statistician showed youth unemployment (for 16 to 24 year olds) has risen by 7% since 2008. This is higher than the UK average at 5.1% over the same period.

Buccleuch’s approach

Buccleuch’s HR team developed a relationship with the Job Centre after hearing they offered a ‘volunteering to work’ programme. Knowing it can be difficult for young people to take their first steps on to the career ladder, we encouraged our managers to consider the benefits of offering work experience for 16 to 24 year olds. Buccleuch is passionate about supporting young people in to the work place, so engaging in the ‘volunteering to work’ initiative seemed to benefit both organisations.

The scheme did not affect individuals’ benefits, but gave the opportunity to ‘try’ out a job to see if it was something they enjoyed. For the individual, it enabled them to gain new skills in a busy work environment, find out the type of work they found interesting, enhance their CV and gain a reference. For Buccleuch, it meant being involved in a worthwhile programme with the aim of being time neutral; we gain the benefit of the individual’s contribution, which in turn gives us time to spend on their development. Buccleuch’s HR team also spent time with the work experience placements to help improve their CV and develop interview skills.

What happened next

Katie Lau, now a permanent employee, began her Buccleuch career with this programme. After graduating from University with a degree in Business and Psychology, Katie wasn’t sure which direction she wanted to take her career. Following a consultation at the Job Centre, the team put her in touch with Buccleuch.

Katie began at Buccleuch volunteering for eight weeks. In this time, the company organised a programme that enabled her to gain an overview of each department, from payroll to HR, marketing and Executive Level PAs. After this, Katie was delighted to be offered a part-time temporary contract in HR. She has now been with the company for over two years and is employed full time on a permanent contract. She has found her niche in the HR department, enjoying the diversity that Buccleuch, as an organisation, brings to the role. Katie particularly enjoys working with people from all walks of life from office staff to farmers and shepherds and learning more about the rural sector.

For Buccleuch, we’ve been involved in a worthwhile programme and gained a permanent employee as a result. We continue to offer opportunities to volunteers who can either focus on a particular area, such as Payroll, IT or HR, or gain experience in them all.

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