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Braving a whole new world; Skills Development Scotland and ministers aim to get young people into work.

HAS there ever been a harder time to be a young person? In 1957, the then prime minister Harold Macmillan declared: "Most of our people have never had it so good." Today, no politician would utter those words.

But there is good news. Last month saw the Scottish youth unemployment rate fall even further, meaning that only five out of 27 European Union countries have a lower percentage of young people unemployed, says Angela Constance, Minister for Youth Employment.

She added: "It is the result of a focus on creating real jobs and lasting opportunities for young people working with Scotland's employers to meet demand and creating positive futures for both business and young people."

Nearly 9 out of 10 school-leavers move on to work, further education or training. There is record participation of young people in further and higher education and Scotland has seen 25,000 Modern Apprenticeship new starts for the second year in succession.

But there's no denying that in Scotland we've got high levels of youth unemployment as well as skills shortages and jobs that employers are struggling to fill.

Demand for people with STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - is white hot, even in an era of high unemployment.

These skills are no longer just for PhD researchers and computer geeks but are within the capability of all young people and school leavers, says David Cameron, of Skills Development Scotland, the national skills agency.

Of course, matching the people to the jobs is crucial.

But that means thinking about careers and making important choices at a far earlier stage.

David said: "We are trying to get more young people engaged in the shortage areas and relevant subjects. If we leave the advice too late, some of the decisions will be made for them by the subject choices they make anyway.

"We need to make sure we have engaged young people with the world of work earlier rather than having it come as a bit of an ambush as they get closer to leaving school."

The SDS website My World Of Work is a good place to start for any young person.

It gives young people information about jobs, possibilities and qualifications and allows them to interact with each other, look at their strengths and build their CV.

Significant numbers of people leaving school will have had up to 14 changes of job by the time they are 30 - which proves training, developing skills and reassessing your career path is always relevant.

David added: "The reality is, even if people stay in the same job, they will have to adapt and change."

Breaking down the barriers to a successful career THE transition from school to the "real world" of work or further education can be hard for even the most confident teenager.

But it's doubly hard for those who already have clear barriers in their lives, such as young offenders, care leavers or those with disadvantaged family circumstances.

For them, Glasgow has developed a highly successful Activity Agreement programme.

This is a written arrangement between a young person and an Activity Agreement coach, where they consent to take part in a programme of learning and activities to help support them to become ready for formal learning or employment.

Activity Agreements are not time limited and are based on an individual's needs. Last year, 600 16-plus school-leavers were helped, with eight coaches offering intensive support.

Abigail Kinsella, of Glasgow City Council's Education Services Partnership, said: "I think it is very hard for a young person to make progress today. But there are many projects to help them and a pathway of support open to young people at all stages."

Despite the challenging economic climate, there is support to help young people make a go of what's available and to make a mark with employers.

Abigail added: "All experience is useful on the path to a career for any individual."

Here, we look at how one young person was coached to success.

Teen Gemma McCourt GEMMA McCourt, 16, was referred to the 16-plus Learning Choices.

Pastoral care staff at Westmuir High School identified that transition to a job, further education or training, would be difficult for Gemma and she would require a high level of support when she left school in June 2012.

Activity Agreement coach Maxine Morrison met Gemma at school, where the teenager explained she would like to do drama and teaching.

A trusting relationship was built, as together they looked at Gemma's strengths and the barriers that might prevent her reaching her goals.

From there an action plan was developed.

Practicalities such as opening a bank account were organised, as was sorting out financial barriers. Maxine organised different activities to build Gemma's confidence, teamworking and social skills. She was also able to help Gemma access a Princes Trust Course and she was coached on interview skills and encouraged to apply for realistic courses.

Gemma successfully got on to a creative industries course at Clydebank College and now hopes to undertake a drama course at Stow College.

Apprenticeships help you to earn while kick-starting your prospects BECOMING a Modern Apprentice is a great way to kick start any career.

How else could you learn on the job, receive invaluable practical experience and work towards an industryrecognised vocational qualification, while getting paid? Modern Apprenticeships are open to anyone aged 16 or over.

However, if you're over 25 you can still apply, but your employer may have to pay for the cost of training, depending on the sector and Modern Apprenticeship selected.

They cover many industries, from IT and business to land management or retail.

A Modern Apprenticeship normally takes between one and four years, depending on the level of the apprenticeship, your ability and the industry sector.

The average pay for an apprentice in Scotland is PS241 per week.

The Scottish Government contributes to the cost of training and there are many thousands of apprenticeships available each year. Visit www.myworldofwork.co.uk To find out if this is for you.

Keeping an eye on future opportunities IN THE future, the only thing limiting what you can do will be your imagination. The job you end up doing in 10 or 20 years might not even have been invented yet.

We make a forecast of some of the industries and jobs that will mean big opportunities in the future.

1. Galactic Architect Sounds like science fiction? It's predicted that companies will be mining precious metals and making rest-stops on Mars by 2025. They'll need buildings and vehicles that can withstand everything from subzero temperatures to extreme radiation.

Hiring: 2025 2. Genetic Counsellor Our genes can help experts predict our future health. By 2020, we'll need more genetic counsellors to decode the information and help patients make decisions.

Hiring: 2020 3. Organ Designer With the 65-plus population doubling by 2050, expect problems with internal plumbing to balloon. Organ designers will need to create artificial organs such as lungs, kidneys and hearts, using the patient's own cells. Hiring: 2022 4. Forecaster of Everything Predicting the future is the future. Skilled people will be needed to pick out what tiny insignificant nothings will become intergalactic trends that end up making gazillions of spondulicks. (Spondulicks are predicted to be the accepted intergalactic currency by 2023. You heard it here first.) Hiring: 2023 5. Human/Robot Interaction Specialist The jobs of the future won't be done by humans alone.

You'll be working alongside robots. People will be needed to communicate with androids to make sure they're not misbehaving. Are you one of them? Hiring: 2022 How to win a job - or get fired - in 140 characters or less Digital Stats per cent of employers use Facebook to look at who is applying for their jobs.

per cent on employers have hired through LinkedIn. per cent of those are looking at how you present yourself online.

per cent are looking at how you'll fit into the company.

th ca ce p IN THE past few years, there have been dozens of cases where individuals, celebrities, athletes and politicians have lost their jobs or been forced to resign because of content posted to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Social media has transformed the way we communicate - and how others see us.

Your online presence can boost your job potential but how you present yourself on the web is as important as how you behave in an interview.

Here, Mark Stuart, from social media specialits Yomego shares his tips on how to use it to your advantage and avoid social media suicide: social web etiquette is now as important as creating a good CV and making a good impression in person.

and see what comes up.

Remember, a prospective employer can see the same thing, so audit out anything you don't like.

prospective employers or a brand you're interested in, as they often post vacancies or useful information to followers.

your LinkedIn biography is kept up to date but succinct.

private on Facebook unless you want the whole world - and your boss - to see what you've been up to at the weekend.

former employer, colleagues or potential future employers. Brands track online conversation and if someone is going for a job and mentions it on Twitter/Facebook, there is a good chance someone within the organisation will see it.

CAPTION(S):

PARTNERSHIP: Gemma McCourt
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 14, 2013
Words:1561
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