Pupils at Wester Hailes High School in Edinburgh welcomed Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education, Youth Employment and Training, to their classroom this week to showcase ENABLE Works’ Stepping Up programme.
The ground-breaking initiative, established in 2009 by ENABLE, Scotland’s largest charity for people with learning disabilities, supports young people who have a learning disability to build and explore their aspirations for the future, helping them to positively progress into employment, education and industry training upon leaving school.
During his visit to Wester Hailes High School, Mr Hepburn heard directly from students who take part in Stepping Up about how the variety of interactive workshops and training activities have helped to increase their confidence and develop their employability skills, and has allowed them the chance to realise their potential and consider their aspirations for the future.
Mr Hepburn was also able to get involved in an interview workshop, aimed at building employability skills, and had the chance to try ENABLE Works’ Virtual Reality (VR) headset, as the programme utilises the latest technologies to allow the young people involved to truly be able to envision their future.
One of the students Jay told us what the Stepping Up programme has meant to them: “I have really enjoyed my time on Stepping Up so far, as I’ve learned a lot about college and work and had the chance to try new things such as the VR headset, while working alongside people in a similar position to me."
As a pupil in fifth year, I’ve started thinking about what I’d like to do after school. Before Stepping Up I really wasn’t sure what was next for me, I didn’t know much about the world of work, and I wouldn’t have known how to write a CV or how to act in an interview. Thanks to the programme, I now understand how to do these things and I feel much more prepared.
“I’ve been discussing college courses and I’m feeling really excited about what options are out there for me. I’d love to study drama or film and I’m looking forward to visiting different colleges to learn more about the full-time options.”
Director of ENABLE Works, Ashley Ryan said: “Stepping Up is the only programme of its kind in Europe and now operates in over 75 schools across Scotland, making a real difference to the lives of thousands of young people.
“We were very pleased to have welcomed Mr Hepburn to Wester Hailes High School to see first-hand the impact the programme is having on disabled young people, to overcome any barriers that can prevent a positive transition from school into adulthood."
Helping equip young people with learning disabilities with the confidence and skills they need to positively progress into employment or further education is invaluable, and we hope this early intervention will help to close the disability employment gap that exists in Scotland.
Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education, Youth Employment and Training, said: “It has been inspiring to hear about the vital work that ENABLE does to connect disabled young people to fair work, education and productive activities designed to support a successful transition into adult life and work.
“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting organisations, such as ENABLE, to ensure that people with additional support needs are given a wealth of opportunities.
“I look forward to learning more about the progress of the Stepping Up programme.”
For more information on the Stepping Up programme please contact the ENABLE Works team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 0200 101.