Learning Creates spoke with Emma from the David Scott School on learning pathways to employment - how recognising more can enable more young people to thrive.

Talking to potential employers about what they can change when considering young people for jobs is a role the David Scott School sees as integral to helping students navigate opportunities they may otherwise shy away from or not be aware of.

When employing young people who can’t tick all the boxes around a seamless school experience, many employers are discovering the value of a simple format change in the hierarchy of a resume. When young people include more of an emphasis on their hobbies, interests and passions by highlighting this information at the top of the cv rather than the bottom, they stand out more – and can present themselves in a way that reflects and honours the kinds of things they do in their community. This is an approach the David Scott School (DSS) is taking when working with students to demonstrate the link between their personal interests and the aspirations of their local community.

While the school provides mentoring and guidance, the students are encouraged and supported to own the process of finding the right job, fine tuning their method with each application, and building resilience as they experience the highs and lows of the job market.

While some students find it easy to look good on paper, by focusing on the outcomes of their efforts, others need help identifying the things that are worth including in their application, presentation or profile.

Emily from DSS describes a student who had been involved in advising a local council about the design of a skateboard park – in their spare time. Others have been involved in local tourism campaigns or connected with small businesses to sell their own products. These activities don’t get recognised unless the young people doing these things have the skills to highlight their activities in a way that resonates with an employer – on a cv, in an interview or written application.

In order to create a more level playing field for our young people, Emily noted that an open minded and attitude and a willingness to give young people a go is necessary.  ‘On paper, it can be hard to quantify what makes our students special as they haven’t been afforded the same opportunities or supports that others have but given the chance to demonstrate their skills via a trial or week’s work experience, they often exceed employers expectations.’

Employers through the David Scott School also describe what they value around new forms of recognition as a way to being fairer, but also as a way to hire people that will be the right fit for a job.

Some of their views and approaches are captured below.

‘We coach young people to identify what kinds of lived experiences they have had as a way to describe their skills. When young people start sharing what they do in their spare time, it gets interesting. We see the things that make them tick. Their path doesn’t have to define them – if it has been rough. Who they are in the moment is what matters and that’s what we should recognise more of as employers if we are to be give more young people a go at getting a job.”

‘Dog grooming is one of those jobs where you don’t need to go to uni and have a great ATAR, it’s much more customer service and teamwork orientated. We find the best way to understand whether someone is the right fit for a job is to get to know them. We can get a good sense of how collaborative someone is by talking to them and asking the right questions. We then just give them a go or a trial run to see how they are with people and animals or how they cope with customer service. And if they show interest and start learning straight away, that’s what matters. That’s what we recognise. And it means we can employ anyone really, regardless of their educational credentials.’