Renfrewshire’s dedicated employability team has helped 900 people find a new job in the last two years.

And more than 1,000 local businesses have also signed up to work with Invest in Renfrewshire, which provides direct access to vacancies, work experience, training, personal support and finance.

Employability Services 19.12.17

Their efforts have helped Renfrewshire rise to fourth best region in Scotland for youth employment, with a better overall employment rate and higher average weekly earnings than the national position.

So what’s the secret to its success? We joined Economic Development Assistant Joan Ferguson at the Russell Institute base to find out more.

Joan said: “Every day is different. We get to work closely with local businesses, all pulling together to help people progress onto the job ladder. And the support we offer doesn’t stop when someone gains employment as we know that’s only the beginning of the journey.”

First stop of the day is a meeting with Tina Perrie who is celebrating starting a paid traineeship at the Tannahill Centre café.

“When I first came here I could hardly talk to anyone and I couldn’t even turn a computer on,” explains Tina, whose time had been committed to caring for her late mother.

“Since coming here I have completed training courses as a barista and in bar and cellar management. The staff here have given me my confidence back and if it wasn’t for Invest I would be stuck on the bottom rung of the ladder.”

Joan then offers mock interview training to university graduate Robert Allan, from Bishopton, who is part of the paid internship programme which sees graduates spend up to 11 months in a Council or local business role, gaining on the job skills and employment support along the way.

Next up for Joan is a visit to Paisley coffee lounge Blend, where staff members James Maclennan and Chelsea Kenny came through the employability programme.

Blend Managing Director Alan Baird, from Foxbar, said: “When I heard about the services Invest offer I thought this is something I definitely want to explore. The business receives a financial incentive to take on staff which is great, but much more important to me is partnering with an organisation that invests in young people and builds a long term relationship with local businesses.”

A second cup of coffee will have to wait as Joan’s next appointment is at the White Cart Co on St Mirren Brae, where Kieran Bisland, 28, is receiving funding and training support as he looks to develop his dad Joe’s thriving gift shop business.

“Working with my Dad has its pros and cons,” jokes Kieran. “The support from Invest means I will have the skills and knowledge to help run the family business, expand it further and even start out on my own.”

Back at the stunningly restored Russell Institute, Joan stops for breath. She adds: “People might not realise the support that’s out there, but I would encourage them, no matter what their circumstances are, to visit us at the Russell Institute and find out how we can help them.”

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