Bridge to Employment is an education-business Partnership Programme set up to help young people in Scotland improve their employability skills. Within Highland each school has a different partner company. Charleston Academy is partnered with SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) along with Lochaber and Glen Urquhart High Schools. Other organisations involved in the delivery of BTE include HIAL (Highlands and Islands Airports) Cap Gemini, LifeScan, the CITB (Construction Industry Training board) and the University of the Highlands and Islands .
Previously a one-year programme for S4 students, Bridge to Employment now gives young people the opportunity to extend the programme for a second year into S5:
Year 1: S4
We have an enthusiastic group of 15 S4 pupils who have joined the programme.
In June the group attended the initial Bridge to Employment team building day at the Black Isle showground. During the day the pupils participated in a series of outdoor practical challenges.
Following a very successful visit to Torr Achilty hydroelectric power station and the windfarm at Fairburn organised by Scottish and Southern Energy in the first week of term the S4 pupils are now working on a British Safety Council Award in “Workplace Hazard Awareness”.
The S4 Bridge to Employment group will be out of school attending 3 days of STEMinars during this session: on 15 September 2015, 17 November 2015 and in 22 January 2016 A STEMinar ( STEM = Science Technology Engineering and Maths) is a practical problem solving activity run by each of the partner companies (Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) , Cap Gemini, Lifescan and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited).
Year 2: S5
Ten pupils have chosen to continue with Year 2 of the Bridge to Employment programme. They have all been given a mentor from one of the partner companies and have been meeting with them on a regular basis for one to one discussions
The key aims of this mentoring scheme are:
- to build confidence and discover the pupil’s strengths
- to broaden the pupils horizons and aspirations
- to develop their life and employability skills
- to help them get to know themselves better
On 28 -30 August the Year 2 group attended a residential weekend held at Active Outdoor Pursuits at Craigower Lodge in Newtonmore.
The aims of this weekend were to improve team working between participants, to develop employability skills and to begin gathering evidence for their CoPE qualification (Certificate of personal Effectiveness).
On the Friday evening the pupils took part in a series of team building exercises along with pupils from Glenurquhart High School, Lochaber High School, Nairn Academy and Culloden Academy. Saturday was spent outdoors: learning the new skills of canoeing and rock climbing and abseiling. Saturday evening was spent working on a project to deliver a group presentation about the benefits of participating in the Bridge to Employment project. On Sunday morning pupils were involved in a community project (dry stone dyking) at the Folk Museum at Newtonmore or volunteering in the Lodge and then returned to Craigower Lodge to deliver their presentations to representatives from the partner companies (Scottish and Southern Energy and Cap Gemini). It was a busy and challenging weekend and the pupils were given an excellent opportunity to develop their communication and problem solving skills
On Tuesday 8 September the Fifth Year group took part in the launch of their Health and Wellbeing project at Glenurquhart High School. The aim of the project is to prepare a group presentation to raise awareness of a work related health and wellbeing issue eg stress, heart disease, type 2 diabetes. Parents will be invited to a presentation evening in October and the winning team will then present their project to the management of Scottish and Southern Energy. This project will allow the pupils to achieve an additional National 5 unit in Skills for Work (Health Sector) Improving Health and Wellbeing Awareness.
Charleston Academy and Highland Council are committed to the Bridge to Employment Programme and the vocational opportunities and skills participation in it provides for our young people working with our Partners. This was re-affirmed at a recent meeting of the Director of care and Learning, Bill Alexander and the partnership companies we work with.
Mrs Susan Ritson, PT Guidance