Skills Exchange SCIO was formerly Skills Exchange Scotland and was established in December 2013 by three work colleagues who had a joint vision of offering a quality, personalised and professional service to unemployed young people in East Kilbride who needed help with looking for work and training opportunities.
From one small training room, two staff and six participants, the organisation has grown to a staff of eight plus four volunteers who operate from the Village Centre in East Kilbride and a centre in Lanark which opened in 2017. Earlier this year we achieved SQA Centre approval and this has enabled us to broaden our provision.
Since setting up six years ago, the organisation has been a delivery partner to New College Lanarkshire and continues to deliver Employability Fund Stage 2 places in South Lanarkshire on their behalf. Two years ago we delivered a successful ‘ Moving On’ programme in Lanark ( funded through SSE Sustainable Development Fund South Lanarkshire ) and this enabled us to start building a network of partners and employers in rural South Lanarkshire. We established a partnership with South Lanarkshire Council’s Aspire Team and to date, three groups of young people have attended our bespoke Choosing Success programmes which run out of our Lanark office thus providing opportunities for young people across Clydesdale which is an area lacking provision in general. Our LEADER funded ‘ Moving On 2’ pre-employability programme, although reaching the end of the funding period, has also helped to open up additional opportunities for rural young people.
Our work has steadily built up since we started six years ago and the direction has changed slightly to a stronger emphasis on working with more disadvantaged and harder-to-reach young people and to link more with the local community including local employers. In June 2018 the company converted to a charity as it better reflects the ethos, focus and nature of this work and a board of trustees was established to bring strategic direction, new skills and different perspectives. This has been an extremely positive development and has enabled us to build new relationships with third sector partners and volunteers.
There have been many changes to Skills Exchange over the last six years – staff have moved on, new people have joined, the organisation has grown – but what has not changed is the underlying belief in providing caring, dedicated, individualised support to young people and helping them to develop the skills, self-belief and confidence to improve their life chances.