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Cultural internship helping to kick start Linzi’s career

An employability programme designed to give experience and improve the job prospects of young graduates is flourishing- with over 214 having come through the system since it began.

Invest in Renfrewshire’s Graduate Internship programme offers paid work placements to Renfrewshire’s skilled young graduates who are unemployed, or underemployed, in their chosen sector.

Linzi Clark, the 200th intern to come through the programme, was struggling to find that first step on the ladder after graduating from university.

Linzi said: “I had graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Commercial Music and found that it was difficult to get that first opportunity to start my career and so was working in Costa Coffee full time.

“My older sister had previously completed a graduate intern placement at Renfrewshire Council and recommended that I should look at the vacancies available through the Invest in Renfrewshire website.”

Linzi applied for an internship with the Paisley 2021 Bid Team as the town entered the race to be named UK City of Culture 2021.

“Having lived in Paisley my entire life, I was excited that Paisley was going to showcase everything it has to offer through the City of Culture bid.

“I had been actively looking for work in the creative sector and have a big interest in the creative arts and so when I saw the opportunity to work as part of the bid team, I thought it would be the ideal role for me.”

As part of her role Linzi works within the community to raise awareness of the bid and find the hidden stories within Paisley.

“The highlights have been getting to meet people from all walks of life through community engagement, and gaining a better understanding of all the amazing things that are happening in Paisley.

“I’ve assisted with the organisation of various community engagement events and cultural consultations and I’ve also had the opportunity to perform at various events including at the launch of the Culture bus.”

The internships are an excellent opportunity for graduates and of those who have completed their internship, 80% have gone straight into work or further education.

Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “We made eradicating long-term youth unemployment a key aim of the Council and figures in June 2015 showed Renfrewshire had climbed to 4th for youth unemployment out of all 32 local authorities- previously having been 27th.

“The Graduate Internship programme has been a key factor in bringing young people into employment and giving them the experience and skills to move into jobs which utilises their degrees.

“It is important that we give our young people a chance to get their first step on the ladder which will set them up for a career in their chosen field- and Invest in Renfrewshire gives graduates that opportunity.”

Linzi now plans to use her experiences to continue working in the creative sector with a number of fields now open to her.

“Working in such a small team has meant that I have gained experience which has given me confidence moving forward in my career as I now feel better equipped to take on new challenges.”

“I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for an internship to do so, as it’s a really great way to gain new skills and kick start your career.”

For further information on undertaking a graduate internship or advice on how to take that next step in your career, visit: www.investinrenfrewshire.com, call 0141 618 7856 or email intern@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

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Mhairi Black Comment: Closure on Lonend DWP Administration Centre

Below is a Statement from Mhairi Black MP on the closure on Lonend DWP administration centre.

Mhairi Black MP said:

“This is yet more bad news for Paisley. This will be devastating for all those who work there.

“I think it is deplorable that the Minister for Employment did not bother alert MPs ahead of this announcement, and instead left us to find out this information through the media.

“There are already concerns that DWP staff are under pressure with increasing workload and I do not understand how closing yet more facilities will rectify that.

“This closure will impact directly on those who rely on our security system.”

Further details to follow.

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Businesses say direct rail link would boost Glasgow City Region economy

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Creating a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport and the city centre is vital to the long term success of the regional economy, according to business leaders.

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A survey on behalf of Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils revealed around three-quarters of businesses believe such a link would benefit their sales or turnover, while half said it would have a positive impact on employment numbers.

It also found that four out of five think a direct rail link would boost their business by giving them better access to clients and customers.

More than a quarter of businesses reported the planned link – known as the Glasgow Airport Access Project – would help them recruit and retain staff, while 84 per cent said it would have a positive impact on the economy.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan holds the economic portfolio in the Glasgow City Region Cabinet.

He said: “The results of this survey send a clear message and leave absolutely no room for doubt. Businesses overwhelmingly feel that improving access to and from the airport with a direct rail link would break down barriers to their success and open doors for local people to find good jobs.”

“Glasgow Airport injects around £170m to the Glasgow City Region economy every year”, he added.

“We need to help it stay competitive and ensure we deliver the access needed for businesses to thrive, grow and provide positive employment opportunities.”

The Glasgow Airport Access Project will provide a direct rail link between the airport, Paisley and Glasgow City Centre.

It is the flagship project of the Glasgow City Region City Deal, an agreement to fund major infrastructure projects that unites eight local authorities and to which the Scottish and UK governments have committed.

The survey was carried out by Peter Brett Associates LLP between 8 August and 6 September 2016.

It was sent to businesses registered with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce and the Glasgow Tourism Initiative, published on the Glasgow City Council website and circulated via the Glasgow Airport Twitter account.

Of the 133 businesses that took part 85 per cent were small-scale enterprises, around 10 per cent were medium scale, and five per cent large scale.

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Council leader wants unis and colleges to join jobs and business push

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Scotland’s universities and colleges can do more to work with local authorities to support new and existing businesses, according to Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan.

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The Council Leader will meet with members of the Scottish Universities Research and Commercialisation Group in Paisley today (Tues 13 Sept) to outline the planned investment for the Glasgow City Region City Deal to bring major employment opportunities to the West of Scotland.

Scottish Universities work with around 30,000 businesses a year – a third of these from outwith Scotland and provide a range of services and support – from meeting and events space to advice for innovative companies, learning and development for employees as well as a range of consultancy services.

Councillor Mark Macmillan said:“We want to work closely with our universities and colleges to capitalise on all the benefits they can bring, whether that’s in equipping students now with the skills required for the future or helping create the conditions in which new business ventures and entrepreneurs thrive.

“The economic climate and financial challenges we face in a post Brexit world mean we need to ensure we equip ourselves for change so we can compete in an increasingly global market  and have the right partnerships in place to support our local businesses and communities through those changes.

“We need to work together to ensure we are constantly re-imagining our offering to both the students of today and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to ensure our support to business does not stand still and remains of value.”

Renfrewshire Council recently signed a new partnership agreement with the University of the West of Scotland which secures commitment to work on shared priorities around education and skills, employment and investment. A similar agreement is planned this autumn with the Paisley-based  West College Scotland.

Councillor Macmillan added: “We have ambitious plans for Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland but we can only maximise the benefits of those plans for the people who live and work here if we work together.”

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Business growth in Renfrewshire on track

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show Renfrewshire is experiencing ongoing economic growth with 140 more businesses starting during 2014 than closing.


Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “In every year between 2009 and 2014, more businesses have opened in Renfrewshire than closed.

“While these figures are a snapshot in time, they reflect positive news for Renfrewshire’s performance. This steady growth highlights the importance we place on economic regeneration and shows that our investment is paying dividends.

“We will soon start to see the benefits of the £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal feeding through into benchmark figures like these. And Paisley’s bid to be the UK City of Culture for 2021 will be another driver for business development, helping to realise our vision for a connected, energetic and innovative economy.

“Renfrewshire Council has and continues to create the conditions which have allowed the area’s economic base to expand. We nurture businesses because we recognise that well established companies provide permanent jobs for local people.

“In the last three and a half years 1,112 new companies have been set up with help from the Business Gateway. Over the last six years, unemployment in Renfrewshire has fallen by 43%.

“In June 2012 we set up Invest in Renfrewshire. Since then 1,027 new paid jobs have been created and nearly 900 firms have signed up to the Invest in Renfrewshire Initiative.

“We have given 374 companies a total of £1.6million to help them pursue development, training and ICT projects. The Retail Improvement Scheme has also given local firms grants worth nearly £1million to help them upgrade their premises.

“Clearly these figures aren’t all good news, especially for those employed by the firms which have shut, but the overall balance sheet is well in the black.”

While Renfrewshire saw a slight slow-down in the number of business start-ups between 2013 and 2014 – 0.8%, this was significantly smaller than the average fall in new business start-ups across Scotland over the same time – 1.4%.

Business start-ups are defined as those which have registered to pay VAT or PAYE (Pay As You Earn). Businesses closures are defined as firms which have cancelled their registration with Companies House. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have stopped trading.

Companies House is an executive agency which incorporates and dissolves limited companies on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

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Renfrewshire Council’s jobs drive cuts unemployment by 43%

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New figures show Renfrewshire Council initiatives have almost halved unemployment among local people.

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Over the last six years the number of Renfrewshire residents claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit has dropped by 43%.

More than 2,000 adults have found work, bringing the overall unemployment rate down to 5.8%. The reduction is most marked amongst young people with the number of 18 to 24 year olds, who are claiming unemployment entitlement, dropping by 60%. Currently there are 620, 18 to 24 year olds out of work, a fall of 920 since 2010.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “The massive improvement in the unemployment figures is largely down to the efforts of Renfrewshire Council. Year on year we have been getting people into real jobs with real prospects.

“Our drive to end youth unemployment has paid particular dividends. We’ve seen a 60% drop in the number of 18 to 24 year olds claiming unemployment benefit.

“It is one of the most basic lessons of economics that getting people back into work is the best way to kick-start the economy. People who have jobs, which pay a decent wage, have the means to buy goods and services. This supports and creates other jobs in a virtuous circle.”

Invest in Renfrewshire is one of the key Renfrewshire Council programmes which offers a range of funding packages, designed to boost the local economy and help companies grow.

The business growth fund can pay up to 50% of costs of specific projects, up to a maximum of £10,000 while employer recruitment incentives help businesses meet the costs of hiring an unemployed young person for a new post.

Under the scheme, Invest in Renfrewshire pays 50% of their wage bill, at national minimum wage, for up to 40 hours a week for a maximum of 39 weeks. An extra £1,000 is available for companies paying the Living Wage of £7.50 per hour. Some 900 firms are signed up to the Renfrewshire Recruitment Incentive scheme. The jobs created must be new, additional to existing staff and, importantly, permanent.

Invest in Renfrewshire also matches companies with unemployed graduates, helping businesses benefit from new ideas and skills.

Microloan funding is available to help existing small businesses grow. It offers unsecured loans of between £1,000 and £5,000. The West of Scotland loan fund offers loans of up to £50,000, which can be used for working capital, equipment or property.

Grants of up to £10,000 are available to help retail businesses improve their shop-fronts and interiors and help is also on offer to find new premises.

InCube is another key part of the Invest in Renfrewshire programme. InCube is a business incubator designed to give new businesses the best possible start in life. The services provided by InCube are backed, quite literally, by a shop window for the unique goods created by local entrepreneurs.

The InCube shop itself has revitalised a vacant unit on Paisley’s Gilmour Street and sells textiles, paintings, jewellery, accessories, hats and children’s clothes.

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Glasgow 14th Sept – Making skills work for employers: Work-Based Learning

Skills Development Scotland are holding a free event in Glasgow for employers all about work-based learning. The event will take place on 14thSeptember at GTG Training.TXqk7VYB_400x400Europe’s highest performing economies have strong systems of work-based learning which contribute to low unemployment, fewer skills shortages and high economic growth. In partnership with employers, we are aiming to achieve a world-class infrastructure for work-based learning here in Scotland.

There are many benefits to employers:

  • it’s employer-led and aligned to the skills needs of employers
  • it’s focused on creating economic growth
  • there’s help with training costs
  • you get early access to a pipeline of future talent
  • you attract motivated young people who want a head start in their careers.

Modern Apprenticeships already deliver fantastic results for employers across Scotland. Together with new and exciting initiatives such as Foundation Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships, there’s never been a better time to get involved.


Click here for more information and register to attend the event.

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Renfrewshire schools show improved exam performance

Renfrewshire schools have recorded an improvement on exam results compared to last year, according to early indications.exam-results

Initial data from this year’s SQA exams shows the percentage of local young people leaving school with three or more Highers has increased by 2%, to 27%.

And there has also been a jump in the numbers getting five or more awards at National 5 level – up by 1.5% to 55% of all pupils.

Pupils across Renfrewshire were among 142,000 across Scotland ending a nervous summer-long wait today when they found out their individual results, either online or via the post.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “This year’s results are very encouraging – we have achieved an improvement on last year across two of the key measures and we are very pleased with how the overall picture is looking.

“We want to congratulate all our pupils for all their hard work, as well as thanking our school staff for the great job they do all year round.

“And as important as exam results are, we want our pupils to leave school not just with academic achievements, but with a full range of individual achievements too, through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh award.”

For any pupils who didn’t get the results they hoped for or who want more information over their next steps, help is available through a free national helpline for pupils and parents.

The Skills Development Scotland helpline will be open from 8am to 8pm on 9 and 10 August and from 9am to 5pm until 17 August. The number to call is 0808 100 8000.

Pupils will be able to speak to qualified careers advisers with access to information on course vacancies at colleges and universities, and advice about apprenticeships, employment or volunteering.

Local careers advice is also available via the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire team, by visiting investinrenfrewshire.com or calling 0300 300 1180.

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The Living Wage Gathers Pace in Renfrewshire

The drive for a fair and prosperous future for Renfrewshire is gathering momentum. Councillors are getting ready to vote on submitting an application for the council to become an accredited Living Wage Employer and record numbers of local businesses have attended a seminar on the benefits of accreditation.


Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said, “We want to build a prosperous, progressive future where people can thrive in employment and businesses can grow as a result of having a loyal and committed workforce. The Living Wage is part of that successful picture.”

The Living Wage is a voluntary hourly rate set independently, updated annually and calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. It affords people the opportunity to provide for themselves and their family. This year, it is set at £8.25 an hour.

However, there are around 16,000 jobs in Renfrewshire that pay below the Living Wage. So, for many people, work is not a guaranteed route to a sustainable standard of living. Renfrewshire’s independent Tackling Poverty Commission recommended that the number of jobs paying less than a Living Wage be halved to improve lives throughout the area.

The council is encouraging other Renfrewshire employers to join it in seeking accreditation and its campaign is gathering strength. More than 60 local businesses took part in a seminar on Wednesday and discussed how the Living Wage can benefit them, their employees and Renfrewshire’s communities.

David Faith from the Living Wage Campaign, who spoke at the seminar said, “I’m very impressed with the turnout from Renfrewshire’s business community. This is the largest event of this kind that I’ve seen. Some businesses have signed up to the accreditation process immediately and I look forward to working with others over the next few months. Of course, I’ll also be delighted to hear from any other organisations who want to join the campaign.”

Other speakers at the seminar included: Alison Dowling from the Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union and Bob Grant from the Chamber of Commerce, both of whom are already Accredited Living Wage Employers, and Fiona Hughes, the council’s Procurement Manager.

The council is Renfrewshire’s largest employer and Councillor Macmillan sees its accreditation as an important step towards creating a Living Wage economy. He said, “The council and business community share many aims: growth, success, a first class committed workforce and the wish to be associated with sound and progressive social values. The Living Wage will help to achieve these aims and to improve the lives of employees, their families and the wider community.”