Creating jobs and opening up opportunities for everyone in Renfrewshire is the aim of a new plan approved by Councillors today (Thursday 28 September), which sets out the five year ambition for the area.

Council Leader with secondary three pupils from Castlehead High School, Paisley Grammar School and Trinity High School who are about to embark on further vocational taster sessions at West College Scotland

Councillors approved the new Council plan titled Thriving Places, Connected Communities, which sets out the Council’s strategic priorities over the next five years, with a focus on growing the Renfrewshire economy and addressing significant challenges facing the area.

Jobs in Renfrewshire have grown by more than 9,000 in the last three years, with key employment sectors in health and care, transportation and manufacturing.

Councillors also noted Renfrewshire’s new 10-year Community Plan, which is developed jointly by public, private and third sector community planning partners.

Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is an exciting time for Renfrewshire and we have an opportunity to transform the area’s future and enable Renfrewshire to thrive.

“We are ambitious for the area and want to create more jobs and attract greater investment, opening up opportunities for everyone and making Renfrewshire a great place to live, work and visit.

“Our plan approved today sets out our shared vision for Renfrewshire, which can only be delivered by working together and by listening to the needs of our communities.

“Renfrewshire has great strengths, with strong communities and great economic potential. We can build on these solid foundations and use these strengths to address the unacceptable inequalities which persist.”

The Council Leader visited West College Scotland to learn more about one ground breaking project which is improving the career prospects for Renfrewshire school pupils.

Pupils drawn from all 11 mainstream secondary schools and Mary Russell School have taken part in a programme designed to better prepare young people for employment opportunities through a partnership between business and education experts at the College and the Council.

More than 170 pupils have experienced a breadth of vocational taster sessions ranging from photography to construction, with 84 per cent now interested in choosing a college option in their senior phase of school.

It is one of five initiatives aimed at improving the career prospects for young people which has shared in a further £75,500 investment from the Council.

Phase one of the Joint Employability Project reached more than 1500 pupils and almost 400 parents, with a range of projects tailored for targeted groups including children with additional support needs and looked after children. The project work is supported by Home Link Employability Assistants to support pupils and their families, engaging more than 140 young people who would have otherwise left school without a positive destination.

“There have been great strides made towards youth employment in Renfrewshire and supporting the next generation into employment will be instrumental in the area’s future success,” added Councillor Nicolson.

“Initiatives like this vocational taster programme with West College Scotland engage, motivate and support pupils into positive pathways beyond school. We will build on this and continue to target resources to make the greatest difference, working closely with our partners in education, in business and in the voluntary sector to close the attainment gap and broaden young people’s horizons.

“Too many of Renfrewshire’s vulnerable young people feel that their circumstances dictate their outcome and so we must do everything we can to support them and their families, tackling these inequalities head-on and removing any barriers to opportunity.”

Peter Pringle, Assistant Principal, West College Scotland, said: “We are pleased to see the progress of pupils who have participated in this vocational pathway programme at our Paisley campus and have been delighted to welcome many of them onto our courses.

“Projects like this give pupils, no matter their background, the opportunity to further their life ambitions and empower them to take control of their careers. West College Scotland is proud to have roots in Renfrewshire for 70 years and retains a deep commitment to regenerate and revitalise the area.”