We Are Opening Soon!

Good News!

Skills Exchange staff are now back in the office getting everything ready so our courses can start from Monday 17th August. 

Employability Fund Stage 2:  Offers training in personal development and employability skills plus SQA qualifications. Will include a work placement and/or community project. Open to all ages.

Let’s Grow : New project in partnership with the David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre and Castlebank Park in Lanark offering horticultural/environmental work placements plus support with wellbeing, life skills and employability and the chance to gain additional qualifications. Open to 16 – 25-year-olds.

New Horizons: Level 1 course to support you to develop a range of useful skills and qualifications to get you started on your journey towards the world of work.

Moving On 2: Personal development / Pre-employability programme for 18-24-year-olds in Clydesdale. Intensive support and the opportunity to gain industry qualifications.

Contact us to find out more information and keep an eye out for further updates and other courses currently in development.

Posted in Opening Soon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on We Are Opening Soon!

We Are Recruiting for A Community Gardener

For full job description and how to apply please read below or download the job description.

Skills Exchange SCIO – Let’s Grow Community  Gardener Job Description

JOB TITLE:                             COMMUNITY GARDENER

SALARY:                                £22,000 pa (pro rata)


TERMS:                                  -12 months fixed term contract ( potentially a further months depending on funding ); -28 hours per week; -start date tbc ( due to current Covid-19 situation)

RESPONSIBLE TO:         SKILLS EXCHANGE SCIO (line managed by CEO)    

The context of this job  

Skills Exchange SCIO works across South Lanarkshire with young people and unemployed adults who have multiple barriers. We deliver training in employability, personal development and life skills providing support which is person-centred, flexible and responsive to individual needs. We work with a range of partners, schools, colleges, employers and third sector organisations with the aim of supporting our participants on their journey towards the world of work.  

The purpose of this post  

We have recently secured funding to deliver our ‘Let’s Grow’ project for disadvantaged young people aged 15+ in partnership with The David Livingstone Trust, who run the Birthplace in Blantyre.

Participants on ‘Let’s Grow’ will have the opportunity to gain skills and qualifications in employability, personal development, enterprise, horticulture and the environment through a blend of group work, individual support and work placements.

The aim of ‘Let’s Grow ’ is to support local young people towards a positive destination, raise aspirations and enable them to contribute to their local community.

Following a successful application to the Scottish Government Investing in Communities Fund we are now in a position to recruit a Community Gardener to be based at the David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre. The successful applicant will support, train and supervise young people who are undertaking Let’s Grow work placements within the Centre’s grounds and gardens as well as supporting Garden Volunteers.

About you  

You’ll have a strong passion for horticulture and inspiring others to learn more about and engage with the natural world around them. You’ll have experience of working with diverse and at times challenging young people, often with additional support needs. You will also have experience of working with and supporting volunteers coupled with excellent organisational, planning and coordinating skills. You will be a confident communicator with experience of working collaboratively with partners, stakeholders and the local community. A degree of flexibility will be required with the role, as the Birthplace project progresses to re-opening in 2021 and so the ability to adapt to changing circumstances would be advantageous.

Key tasks  
  • Support and supervise project participants undertaking practical work experience at the David Livingstone Birthplace
  • Organise and plan seasonal gardening duties and the development of projects to be undertaken by project participants within the grounds and gardens
  • Provide training to project participants as required
  • Support and liaise closely with other David Livingstone Birthplace Garden Volunteers and the on-site staff
  • Maintain safe outdoor working practices and strict adherence to relevant Health & Safety legislation
  • Prepare risk assessments or method statements prior to any work commencing
  • Liaise with, and where appropriate work with, other organisations / partners to provide and educate on horticultural activities
  • Work closely with other Skills Exchange project staff to ensure effective communication and reporting
  • Undertake any administrative / reporting tasks related to the project as directed
  • Effectively organise and manage own workload and diary
  • Represent Skills Exchange professionally as and when required at external events
  • Contribute to the sharing of good practice and support continuous improvement throughout Skills Exchange and promote a positive image of Skills Exchange and all the services it delivers
  • To travel to other locations connected with Skills Exchange business as required
  • Identify and highlight training and development needs in line with requirements of the Community Gardener role to line manager
  • Actively contribute to the maintenance of a professional and welcoming environment
  • Any other duties as may be reasonably required
Generic requirements  

The post holder will be expected to comply with Skills Exchange Scio’s policies and procedures at all times. These include, but are not limited to, equality and diversity, confidentiality, data protection, health and safety.

The post holder will be trained and coached in the policies and procedures of Skills Exchange Scio.  They will be expected to familiarise themselves with these policies and procedures and to seek advice and guidance from their line manager if required.

The key tasks listed above are an indication of the main duties to be performed.  They may be subject to amendment to take account of changing circumstances but any changes would be made following discussion with the post holder.

Please note that should your application be successful you will be required to become a member of the Disclosure Scotland PVG Scheme.

Skills Exchange Scio

Person Specification

Post : Educational Gardener

The Person Specification states the minimum knowledge, skills and experience required to carry out the job and is used for both shortlisting candidates for interview and to identify the areas to explore in an interview.

E = essential criteria                               D = desirable criteria

A Experience
1 Demonstrable horticultural skills   E
2 Minimum 1 year’s previous experience within a horticultural background   E
3 Working with and supporting disadvantaged young people   E
4 Working with and supporting young people with additional support needs   E
5 Working with and supporting young people with multiple barriers   E
6 Working with volunteers and managing their work programmes   E
7 Ecological or biodiversity activities   D
8 Liaising and working with partners and local community organisations       D
B Knowledge / Skills
1 Broad knowledge of garden and landscape maintenance   E
2 Knowledge and understanding of the likely issues and barriers faced by the client group   E
3 Computer literate, specifically Microsoft applications including Word, Excel and PowerPoint   D
C Skills
1 Excellent interpersonal skills and able to build positive relationships quickly and effectively   E
2 Ability to plan and manage a work schedule for young people and monitor / report progress against outputs.   E
3 Openness and readiness to work and integrate with a diverse range of individuals   E
4 Excellent organisational and planning skills   E
5 Ability to work on own initiative and contribute effectively to the aims of the Let’s Grow project   E
6 Ability to prioritise and manage work and time efficiently   E
7 Adaptable and flexible, able to deal with change   D
D Other
1 Current driving licence and access to own transport   E
2 SQA Assessor Award   D
3 Able to undertake occasional evening and/or weekend work if required D
4 First Aid qualification D  
5 Health & Safety qualification   D

Applications : Closing Date 30th June 2020

Please email CV and covering letter ( no more than one page ) to : ann@skillscio.org

If you would like to discuss the role in more detail or have any queries please contact

ann@skillscio.org  /  07384 816570

Please note :

Due to the current Covid-19 situation both Skills Exchange SCIO and the David Livingstone Birthplace are currently closed and staff are working from home.

We are hoping to reopen as soon as we are permitted to do so but please be aware that this may impact on both interview dates and the start date for the post. We appreciate your understanding in this situation.

Posted in Community Gardener | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exciting new outdoor employability programme – Let’s Grow!

The ‘ Let’s Grow ‘ Project

‘Let’s Grow ’ is a new project for young people delivered by Skills Exchange SCIO in partnership with the David Livingstone Birthplace and Lanark Community Development Trust with a provisional start date of 1 st July 2020. Participants will have the opportunity to gain skills and qualifications in employability, personal development, enterprise, horticulture and environmental work through a blend of group work, individual support and work placements.

These will take place at the David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre and Castlebank Park in Lanark where there will be projects and practical activities based around the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens and grounds. The aim of ‘Let’s Grow ’ is to support local young people on their journey towards the world of work while raising aspirations and developing a range of skills. We are very grateful to the funders below who are supporting this project.

Posted in Let's Grow | Leave a comment

MCR Pathways Article

Most of you will already know Julia, our Employment and Training Tutor, and be familiar with her warm, kind and friendly nature. What you might not know is that Julia is a mentor with MCR Pathways,  a programme that supports care-experienced young people to ensure they receive the same opportunities as their peers. With guidance from their mentor, they can realize their potential and talents, inspiring them to reach their goals. 

Julia Brown Employment and Training Tutor

Julia was paired with Angel, a young person in S5 and unsure of the direction she wanted to take in her life. MCR Pathways has written a wonderful article about Julia’s experience and you can read it here.

From the MCR Pathways Article

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, click here and follow the steps on the MCR website and register your details today.

Posted in MCR Pathways Article | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Internet Safety

Due to recent circumstances, you may be using technology and the internet far more than you used to. This could be for recreational activities such as using your Xbox for gaming, to connect with friends and family or to carry out your schoolwork. It is, therefore, more important than ever to be aware of internet safety. The following information is a list of resources from UK Safer Internet Centre to help keep you safe and be aware of the dangers you may face while being online.

 Childnet Launch Online Safety Activities You Can do From Home

Click here to visit Childnet

As children spend more time at home and are going to be online more than ever, Childnet has pulled together a list of easy-to-use resources. They are broken up into ages and include quick activities, films and plenty more fun ways to engage your children. From identifying fake news to online bullying – there is plenty for you to use and adapt for your family.  


Working Remotely? – Advice to Professionals & Parents From POSH & RHC. As we enter the world of remote learning, there are some things that professionals and parents need to know. Now more than ever, online safety is a number one priority so whether you’re a professional now working from home or a family member now taking on the role of ‘educator’, please read the below article to get the full ins and outs:


IWF Braces for Spike in Public Reports Surrounding Child Grooming Amidst Coronavirus Experts are bracing themselves for a spike in public reports of child sexual abuse on the internet as more and more people stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts at the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) are preparing for an increase in public reporting of criminal material as a result of millions of people self-isolating at home. 


Please find below further fact sheet issued by Police Scotland on how you can keep yourself and your family safe on digital platforms during Covid19 Pandemic.

Posted in Internet Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Support During Covid19 Pandemic

We are living in unprecedented times with lots of uncertainty and worry. It is important that we look after ourselves and each other by making sure to follow the government guidelines in order to stop the spread of the virus and lessen the burden on our NHS services.    

The government has brought in stricter measures to ensure that we stay in our homes and minimise the amount of contact we have with other people, even our own family members who live outside the family home.

Together we will get through this!

This therefore could be making you feel lonely and sad, not being able to see your friends and family members. It is ok to feel like this. These are difficult times and we are having to sacrifice a lot to ensure we all do our bit to stop the spread of the virus. This may be affecting your mental wellbeing because you have had to change so much of your normal life in such a short space of time. However, you are not alone and there are resources available should you be struggling with your mental health, or if you just need somebody to talk to about the way you are feeling or even to just understand the current situation.

Educational Psychological Services for South Lanarkshire have set up a dedicated support line offering advice and support via telephone consultations. This is available for young people/school staff/parents/carers and other professionals to access.  The service operates Monday – Friday 10 am-3 pm and you can contact the service via telephone on 01698 4555 800 or drop an email to enquiries@slcpsyc.org.uk.

Should you be self-isolating or vulnerable and don’t have access to a good support network, South Lanarkshire Council and VASLAN have teamed up to provide The Community Engagement Team. This service aims to help those in the community who are delivering essential items such as food and medicine as well as carrying out welfare checks and telephone befriending for those isolated and alone. Please note that this service is only available for those who are residents in South Lanarkshire. If you require this service you can contact the Community Wellbeing Line on 0303 123 1009, the opening times for the line are Monday-Thursday 8.45 am-4.45 pm and Friday 8.45 am -4.15 pm. Or if you have any questions in regards to the helpline you can email the team on communities@southlanarkshire.gov.uk. You can check out the fact sheet below for more information.

If you are struggling please speak to somebody or contact the helplines above

Don’t forget that Scotland needs your help for the Coronavirus response and should you want to help out, VASLAN is seeking volunteers for the local community. If you wish to volunteer, then contact them on communities@southlanarkshire.gov. You can also register your details at readyscotland.org, to sign up to your local community and be in the reserves for the Red Cross. Remember, only help if you are well. The following fact sheet below is from South Lanarkshire Council and outlines the guidelines for volunteering.

Remember Skills Exchange SCIO staff are still available for enquiries during this time.  Check out the  ‘ Contact us ’ page for staff details.

Don’t forget to Stay Home, Stay Safe and Save Lives!

From the team at Skills Exchange please take care of yourselves during this time. Remember you are not alone and there are services and resources in place to help you.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch
Posted in Covid19 Pandemic Support | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Apprentice Commis Chef

Cooking to Success

Kaysey was looking for advice on opportunities when she left school and was referred to an Employability Fund training course with Skills Exchange. After a successful interview, she started in August 2019. While with Skills Exchange Kaysey expressed an interest in hospitality and was keen to work and gain experience in a kitchen. Skills Exchange has a close working partnership with Lanarkshire Catering School and arranged for Kaysey to meet Rita Kelly, their Training Manager, who was recruiting for a Modern Apprentice 2 Commis Chef position with Citation Taverne and Restaurant in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Kaysey was offered the position, started her Modern Apprentice Level 2 training in Professional Cookery SCQF Level 5 and has not looked back since. Feedback from tutors at Lanarkshire Catering School and her colleagues at Citation is always positive.

Rita Kelly the Training Manager with Head Chef Colin McMeechan and Kaysey

Rita Kelly – Training Manager – Lanarkshire Catering School
“Kaysey came over very well at our initial meeting and showed enthusiasm and willingness to learn. A real benefit from our partnership with Skills Exchange is that they put forward the right candidates, having discussed career options with the young people and prepared them well for the interview. After a short work trial with Head Chef Colin McMeechan, himself a graduate of Lanarkshire Catering School in 2010. Colin has recently gone back to the Catering School to complete Supervisor Training.

Head Chef Colin McMeechan says “Kaysey has a great relationship with all the team at Citation and is a great asset herself to the team ‘’.

Kaysey busy in the kitchen

Kaysey’s comments on working in the hospitality industry ……….
Asked for her favourite part, “making deserts and the chat in the kitchen”
Least favourite part, “being on your feet all day, unsocial hours, missing going out with friends”

Posted in Lanarkshire Catering School | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apprenticeship Week 2nd – 6th March 2020

We are now at the end of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020, we want to share our positive experience working with two Foundation Apprentices. Which is a fantastic initiative, beneficial to both the students and organisations.

Alex and Molly, Digital Media Foundation Apprentices from New College Lanarkshire, have joined us here at Skills Exchange SCIO on work placement.  Both students have been working exceptionally hard on Skills Exchange SCIO’s new YouTube channel.

Foundation Apprentices-Digital Media
Molly and Alex two Foundation Apprentices from New College Lanarkshire

Skills Exchange has recently been developing its digital presence and Alex and Molly have been a great asset to the team.  With a focus on producing video content, they’ve been the absolute dream team, working perfectly together to create short films for our YouTube channel.  

They’ve put together a short video about Skills Exchange SCIO showcasing what we offer as a charity and where you can find us. They’ve done all the work from start to finish;  researching, storyboarding, planning, filming group sessions to gather footage and taking the initiative to interview some of our young participants on our programmes.

Digital Media Foundation Apprentices
Hard at work making videos for the Skills Exchange SCIO YouTube Channel

You can check out Alex and Molly’s hard work by clicking on the link below to see their first video on the Skills Exchange SCIO YouTube Channel. Make sure to subscribe to the channel and click the notification bell as well as we will have many more videos to come.

A huge thank you once again to Alex and Molly for all their work. We appreciate all the time and effort that goes into producing a video and you have both done a wonderful job. We look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

We’d also encourage other organisations to think about offering work placements to Foundation Apprentices. This has been the first time we’ve been involved and it’s been a great experience for all the staff and I hope for Alex and Molly too!

If you would like to get involved and give a Foundation Apprentice student a chance to learn practical skills in the workplace you can find out more information here.

Posted in Foundation Apprenticeships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrations of Success Class of 2019

Christmas is almost upon us and the year is almost over. Everyone is beginning to get that festive feeling, as the excitement of the big day draws closer and closer. But before everyone checks out, I would like to take this opportunity to share the celebrations we have had this last week. Three of our programmes came to an end this week. Though this can leave a feeling of sadness as we have to once again say goodbye to the young people we have worked closely with over the last few months it also brings great joy to see how our young participants have grown. What better way to start the festive season than having not just one award ceremony, but three!

New Horizons and New Beginnings!

New Horizons Group-Girls
We kicked off the week of celebration with our New Horizons group.

The smallest of the three groups, the New Horizons students completed their programme, earning their employability award. Our C.E.O Ann McCracken proudly awarded the group their certificates. They even earned themselves a bonus for all the effort and work they have put in over the course of the programme. We wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.

Choosing Success Raced to the Finish Line

Choosing Success celebrated their achievement with a ceremony and Go Karting!

Choosing Success celebrated their achievement with a ceremony and Go Karting!

Our Lanark group Choosing Success had their achievement ceremony at Lanark Fire Station, who kindly allowed us to hold it there in the community room. Huge thank you to our partners at Aspire who also attended the event. It is always wonderful to see a turnout for the young people and their hard work being recognised. Douglas Hashagen the Youth Employability Manager at South Lanarkshire Council awarded the students their certificates. A great day was had by all and the young people were also rewarded for all their hard work with a day at the Go Karting, showing up their tutors Cara and Julia in the process!

Positive Futures Celebrating Success

Positive Futures finished off the week of achievements with their celebration of success

Positive Futures finished off the week of achievements with their celebration of success

Our youngest group of students the Positive futures group rounded off a great week with their Celebration of Success. Our trustee Lyndsey Gaja did the honours of awarding the students their certificates. Thank you to the parents for their support and attendance; to Fraser McNeill, owner of Japcom Automotive Repair Centre, who took time out of his busy day to support the lad he has on a work placement; and also to Mr Paterson, S3 Depute at Stonelaw High School.

Just before You Go…

It has been a great year here at Skills Exchange SCIO but none of our work with these groups is possible without our partners. We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the support from the Aspire team in South Lanarkshire Council’s Employability Services, Stonelaw High School and Trinity High School. The New Horizons programme would not have been possible without funding from the Baillie Gifford Multi-Year Award, administered by Foundation Scotland; the Agnes Hunter Trust and the Corra Foundation. We would also like to thank those in the local community for their support and especially the businesses that give our young people valuable work experience. Last, but certainly not least, I’m sure our students would agree that Julia, Scott and Cara, our training and employment tutors, do a fantastic job with their groups to help them realise their potential on their journey towards the world of work. So thank you to everyone once again. Have a great Christmas and we look forward to another successful year here at Skills Exchange.

Posted in Celebration of Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Armed Forces Week 2020

This week is 2020-Armed Forces Week, celebrating the brave men and women who have served, continue to serve or are in the early stages of their armed forces career. Thursday had a focus on army veterans and we are fortunate to have one here at Skills Exchange. Calum, our Training and Employment Assistant served in the army for six years before being medically discharged. Calum wanted to help inspire others by sharing his experience of what life is like after volunteering. 

Calum in full cerimonial uniform

Calum was only 18 when he first signed up for the army. He said there were few options for him but he had always wanted to join the infantry so began his career in 2012 at Catterick. He was then based in Germany in an infantry battalion. Calum made lifelong friends, experienced great times in the army through job training, adventure training and becoming a boxer and coach. Unfortunately, though, his time in the army ended sooner than he had hoped due to being injured on a promotion course. After serving just over six years he had to be medically discharged because of his injuries. This led to Calum being unemployed for a long time, struggling to find an employer or something to do. Luckily, Calum came across an opportunity to volunteer at Skills Exchange, helping support young people into employment. Calum quickly became a valuable member of the Skills Exchange team and worked well with the young people, supporting them with trying to get employment themselves.  After six months of volunteering, Calum was offered a Community Job Scotland paid post here at Skills Exchange. As an Employment and Training Assistant, he supports the staff with administrative tasks, helps the tutors delivering employability courses, provides aftercare support to the young people and runs the job club.  

Calum working hard with Scott representing
Skills Exchange at the job fayre

Calum says: “I enjoy engaging with our young people, building positive relationships and watching them move into employment or further education.” 

Posted in Armed Forces Week | Leave a comment