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Minister for Youth Employment and Training puts bike mechanic skills to the test

Posted on 19 August 2021

Minister for Youth Employment and Training Jamie Hepburn was “inspired” after meeting with participants of Venture Trust’s youth employability programme in Glasgow.

Mr Hepburn was able to meet a group of young people working on their employability skills as they took part in Venture Trust’s innovative Change Cycle programme. The 8-week employability programme runs in partnership with Bike for Good in Glasgow and The Bike Station in Edinburgh. It is for young people aged 16-24 who are not in work, education or training, facing long term unemployment and disadvantage or potentially at risk of offending or anti-social behaviour.

The Minister also rolled up his sleeves and took part in a skills test against the young people as they challenged him in a race to change a punctured tyre. In a sign of the skills developed by programme participants, they repaired their flat tyres in minutes to leave Mr Hepburn slightly deflated.

Mountain bike construction and maintenance along with development of riding and safety skills are at the heart of the programme. However, wrapped around the excitement of building a mountain bike in a workshop environment, there are, IT sessions, CV writing, budgeting skills, interview skills, self-presentation skills, and mock interviews. Work placements, an assortment of talks and sessions from external partners, sector-specific career talks, motivational talks, career Q&As, and the recruitment process also form part of the service.

Participants learn about responsibility and getting up to be at a job Monday to Friday. They get to keep the bike they have built and use it for job hunting, accessing services, training, getting to work, and leisure.

Covid-19 has taken a devastating toll on young people in Scotland, especially on their future employment prospects. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the youth unemployment rate in Scotland was 13.5 percent, the highest it has been since the final quarter of 2016. Even before the pandemic thousands of young people were long-term unemployed because they lacked the very basic employability skills needed to begin working towards securing and sustaining a job.

Mr Hepburn said:

“We know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on our young people and initiatives like the Venture Trust’s Change Cycle programme have a crucial role to play in our economic recovery.

“We launched the Young Person’s Guarantee in November last year with the aim of ensuring that young people in Scotland get the support they need to access and sustain valuable education and employment opportunities for years to come.

“I was inspired by the hard work and dedication shown by the young people taking part in the Change Cycle employability programme which gives them vital experience and skills to enter the workforce.”

Venture Trust CEO Alastair Pringle said:

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on us all and we are now seeing the effects of this in the labour market through rising youth unemployment rates. For those young people who were already furthest away from the job market, their chances to succeed are much harder.

“Venture Trust works in outdoor settings with some of the most marginalised young people in Scotland to help them develop the skills they need to survive (and hopefully) to thrive. Change Cycle is just one of our innovative programmes which aims to build social and personal skills, young people’s confidence and technical skills which can help them move into a more secure future.”  

Further detailed information about the Change Cycle programme can be found here:

https://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/change-cycle/

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