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West Lothian Schools graduate from innovative development programme

One of Scotland's leading social mobility programmes, Career Ready, has reached a major milestone during Scotland's 'Year of Young People' with pupils from more than 100 schools graduating.

This year's ceremony marked the first time that pupils from West Lothian graduated from the Career Ready programme.

On Wednesday 18 April 21 pupils from three schools in West Lothian attended a special ceremony at Perth Concert Hall to celebrate.

In addition to celebrating the most recent tranche of graduates, the ceremony rewarded those who excelled throughout the programme with a selection of special awards. Zoe Stangoe from The James Young High School was named regional winner in the Student of the Year awards.

She said: "Before my internship I was unsure about my future, now I am enthusiastic confident and open minded. Every person that I worked with made an impact on me. I was welcomed and supported by my colleagues and was comfortable to ask them for help if I ever needed it.  Career Ready is a great programme to help young people explore all the possibilities of further education, job opportunities and the chance to be paired with a Mentor from a local business to guide you through the programme. I would tell anyone thinking about it to go for it!"

Designed to boost social mobility and increase employability, Career Ready opens up the world of work to young people by offering a structured programme for 15-18-year olds focusing on four key areas of activity - mentoring, internships, masterclasses and workplace visits.

Now in its 9th year in Scotland, the programme builds partnerships between businesses, including Diageo, local authorities and schools linking employers directly with S5 and S6 secondary school pupils, essentially bridging the gap between education and the work environment.

As well as one to one mentoring and masterclasses, a key element of the programme is a four-week paid internship to give the pupils access to real experience with some of Scotland's top businesses, including Diageo, Standard Life Aberdeen, Morgan Stanley, Franklin Templeton Investments, SSE, and BP.

Larissa Russell Regional Manager of West Lothian commented: "450 young people across Scotland are graduating from the programme equipped with skills and knowledge about the world of work and real work experience developed over the past two years.  This year is the first graduation for West Lothian, and it is wonderful to celebrate the amazing journey that our young people have undertaken. Their progress and achievements have only been made possible by the generous employers who support Career Ready in West Lothian.  Zoe is a fantastic role model for other students and a great ambassador for the Career Ready programme.

Susie Wands Chair of Career Ready West Lothian Advisory Board, added: "Building the partnership with Career Ready, West Lothian Council and businesses across the area to grow and support young people on the programme to develop in skills, and self-confidence,  to build useful networks and to create plans for their future careers is truly inspiring.  Celebrating with the first group of graduates from West Lothian today is an honour.

Zoe's mentor, James Stewart from Click Netherfield said: "Zoe and I built both understanding and trust and in doing so have a common goal of improvement to enhance Zoe's career opportunities once her time at school ends. When she came in to work at ClickNetherfield, Zoe blossomed into someone who was an asset to the business, so much so, that we asked her to stay on for an additional period to help complete an important project our Finance Department were working on.   Career Ready is a brilliant programme for young people like Zoe and I am delighted that I personally participated as a mentor and that as an organisation we are continuing our relationship with the programme  too."

James Cameron, Head of Education, West Lothian Council said: "I was delighted to attend the ceremony in Perth and would like to congratulate all the pupils who graduated.

"West Lothian Council is committed to ensuring that our young people are equipped with the knowledge they need to enter further and higher education, training and the employment market. The Career Ready Programme successfully bridges the gap between education and work by giving young people access to real experience of the world of work which can only benefit their prospects in the future."


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