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CASE STUDIES: Skills, experience and decent wages: why the Scottish Government's Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) initiative has proven successful to young Inverness workers


By Alasdair Fraser

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Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator. Picture: Callum Mackay
Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator. Picture: Callum Mackay

Three young beneficiaries of DYW locally have offered personal insight into why it is a force for good.

The trio, who all work for major local employer The Cairngorm Group, have each used apprenticeship training or DYW support to gain valuable skills and experience while earning a decent wage.

Jay Nolan (17), an apprentice joiner and carpenter, is taking an SQA in advanced joinery through a mix of workplace training and study at Inverness UHI.

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Through DYW, he went to Cairngorm on work experience and so impressed the foreman that within three days he was offered a job.

Mr Nolan said: “I just went for a week’s work experience, but wanted to show I was really enthusiastic about a career in joinery.

“They gave me an amazing opportunity to leave school and be part of their company.

“I’ve already fitted windows myself and I normally work on building extensions.

“I’m in my second year at college and approaching the final block, before I hopefully qualify fully in about a year and a half.

“Through DYW, I was able to get a chance to show what I could do.

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“It would be worrying to me, a real shame, if other young people weren’t able to access the same kind of support and opportunities I’ve benefited from.”

Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Louise Fitzpatrick, occupational health and safety modern apprentice. Picture: Callum Mackay
Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Louise Fitzpatrick, occupational health and safety modern apprentice. Picture: Callum Mackay

Louise Fitzpatrick (26) has been just over five years with Cairngorm having started in reception, while taking a business and administration modern apprenticeship.

She recently began a second one in occupational health and safety.

The beauty, she feels, is using everyday work activity as evidential coursework.

The former Millburn Academy pupil said: “I left school and went straight into work. University wasn’t for me and that’s a good aspect to the Modern Apprenticeships.

“At 16, 17 or even younger, there is a lot of pressure to know what you want to do for the rest of your life when the majority of us are not really sure.

“To be able to do these qualifications while working full-time and being paid normally is really important.

“People my age can be a little bit scared by the financial aspect of college or university.

“It is important for young people who don’t want to go to know that education doesn’t have to stop when you leave school.

“If firms invest in young people, they probably get back 100 times what they put in. It is great for the company and great for the trainee.”

Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator. Picture: Callum Mackay
Chris Dowling, Cairngorm Group, and Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator. Picture: Callum Mackay

Mike Jasz (21), a trainee window fabricator, initially struggled to persuade some local employers to take a chance on him
after leaving Dingwall Academy.

Now after just over two years with the Inverness firm, he has built up knowledge and skills with backing from the DYW-related Kickstart scheme introduced in response to the pandemic.

He explained: “It has given me the chance to work on a similar wage to everyone else while training, and that is massive during the cost-of-living crisis.

“First of all I learned to reinforce window frames, then went elsewhere within the workshop and even out on-site.

Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator and Chris Dowling Cairngorm Group, Picture:Callum Mackay..
Mike Jasz Trainee Window Fabricator and Chris Dowling Cairngorm Group, Picture:Callum Mackay..

“Working as a team has been huge, as has problem solving – there’s a lot that happens in a working day that requires a solution on the spot.

“Textbooks are all very well, but most of the learning comes from actually doing the job.

“It would be unfortunate if fewer people get the kind of opportunity I’ve enjoyed.”


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