Taking steps to employment with college project

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A group of Kirkintilloch locals have completed a pioneering project to help them develop their confidence to actively seek and gain employment.

The Big Lottery-funded Keys to Learn initiative - managed by New College Lanarkshire in conjunction with Glasgow Homelessness Network (GHN) - was a seven-week skills and personal development programme supporting the group who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The part-time course also focused on encouraging the group to increase their knowledge and confidence and help them identify how to move on with their lives after the course.

Topics covered in the 15-hour per week sessions included advice and information on managing finances, mental health first aid, volunteering information, smoke free support, team-building and personal development.

Guest speakers provided the expert information, and included Shelter, Citizens Advice Bureau, Smokefree Support, East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action, ED Leisure Trust, Glasgow Homeless Network, Bridge2Business, Money Advice Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and New College Lanarkshire.

They also embarked on an outing to Mugdock Country Park to take part in a team challenge, building a habitat for the animals while learning about the park, its history and its wildlife.

Additionally, students were taught basic guitar by Rookie Rockstars once a week, and also attended healthy eating classes in the Cumbernauld Campus where they learned how to prepare and cook healthy meals – taking home whatever they created. They also received first aid training, covering CPR and the recovery position.

The students also completed SQA Employability Units – Preparing for Employment First Steps, Responsibilities of Employment and Building Own Employability Skills.

One of the students on the programme commented: “I have been applying for jobs and attended interviews as a result of the confidence I have gained working on this course – giving me a great sense of achievement.

“The programme has helped me develop my CV, complete job applications and get ready for interviews.

“I really enjoyed the programmed and have learned so much about myself and my skills. I feel prepared for the work I would like to do and have made a lot of friends – it is the best thing I have done for a long time.”

A ceremony to mark the students’ successful completion of the scheme was held, where programme organisers joined the students as they received certificates to mark their achievements.

Carol-Ann MacKenzie, Programme Leader, said: “The difference in the students from the start of the programme to the end is amazing. All the students faced their own difficulties and setbacks but each gave their full commitment to the programme and came out more confident, skilled and able to take on employment.

“With their additional qualifications, each student has now created a CV and are actively seeking employment or further education.

“The programme has been a fantastic boost for the students and I look forward to hearing where it takes them in the future.”

Stuart Matson, New College Lanarkshire’s Community Programmes Manager, said: 

“We are delighted at the success of the programme, and have already seen numerous benefits for the students. It has been a great example of partnership working and supporting people in our community and we would like to thank all our partners who took the time to speak with our students – it has been of fantastic benefit.”

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