Hand Picked academies boost apprenticeship hopes for Forth Valley school leavers

Ruairi Gallagher and Robert Wood

FORTH Valley youngsters looking to kick-start their careers as apprentices recently participated in an employability course run by building services company FES in conjunction with Hand Picked from CR Smith.

34 school leavers from Alva Academy, Stirling High School, Bannockburn High, Lornshill Academy and Wallace High School attended two Hand Picked academies, each held over three days at the FES training centre in Stirling. The courses were designed to boost the teenagers’ chances of being selected for one of the 28 apprenticeships available at FES.

This is the fourth consecutive year that FES and Hand Picked, an employment opportunities programme run by CR Smith, have collaborated. Last year, six candidates on the Hand Picked course were offered apprenticeships with FES and 10 took up apprenticeships with other local firms.

Robert Wood, contracts director at FES said, “Hand Picked came to us over four years ago and brought a fresh and unique approach to support young job seekers and create a platform for them to learn important employability skills whilst showcasing themselves to prospective employers. FES is a company based in Stirling which is proud to do its part to help local schools and their young people as they go out into the workplace. We see the Hand Picked Academies as a good platform to help bridge the gap between school and starting work.”

Hand Picked delivered workshops on marketing yourself to employers, selling yourself at interview, creating the right first impression, behaviours and attitudes in the workplace and identifying skills and attributes. Participants also undertook practical and interactive workshops as well as an aptitude test, practical assessment and a first stage interview with FES senior managers.

Ruairi Gallagher, a former Hand Picked academy graduate who now works at FES added, “I was 17 when I took part back in 2017. It helped me balance out my options and gave me the information I needed on the industry. I thought FES only did two trades but from this I saw there were a whole range of trades available that I was unaware of.”

Pauline McGeevor, Hand Picked project manager commented, “Our academies are entirely focused on supporting young people into jobs and we are always looking to work with like-minded employers, such as FES, to provide a positive start to the working lives of young people in the local community.”