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 : Our project in partnership with the David Livingstone Birthplace in Blantyre and Castlebank Park in Lanark offering horticultural/environmental work placements plus support with well being, 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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 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 You can also register your details at, 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
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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”

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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.

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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.

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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.” 

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Challenge Poverty Week 7-13 October

Challenge Poverty Week is an initiative to raise awareness in regards to Scotland’s poverty issues and how we can resolve these issues.

“Too many people in Scotland are trapped in the grip of poverty” – ChallengePoverty


Skills Exchange was built around two objectives – the relief of poverty and the advancement of education.

By advancing education we are helping to break down barriers. We understand that due to poverty some people are disadvantaged and are unable to gain sustainable employment. These disadvantages can be due to personal, economic or social circumstances.

craig-mclachlan-SSYt57j0Q28-unsplash - Copy

Our goal through the programmes we offer is to give our participants, the confidence, support and skills needed to gain and sustain employment.

Barriers such as financial hardship, long-term illness or disability may impact a persons ability to work and earn a wage.

We try to resolve this by providing bespoke programmes tailored to a person’s individual needs. To provide them with the help and support needed for personal development and/or employability.

Current South Lanarkshire Figures

Nomisweb states the following figures for South Lanarkshire :

  • 17,400 work-less households in South Lanarkshire accounting for 15.8% of South Lanarkshire’s population
  • 6,600 of South Lanarkshire’s population is unemployed which accounts for 4% of the population
  • 10.9% hold no qualification, this is above the national average of 9.7% 
  • 3.5% of South Lanarkshire’s population are in the receipt of benefits, which is above the national average at 3.3%
  • The number of lone parents and carers within South Lanarkshire is slightly higher than the national average.
  • South Lanarkshire is also higher than the national figures for the number of people working part time

Challenge Poverty Week is a nationwide initiative to raise awareness on the current poverty issues.

It strives to highlight the substantial problems Scotland is facing and to change the way in which people view poverty.

By bringing attention to poverty and working together we can try and solve the problem of poverty.  

Challenge Poverty Week gives an opportunity to garner support from the public and encourage action to tackle Scotland’s current poverty problems. 


If you wish to help raise awareness, be sure to check out their website here and add the following hashtags to your social media posts.  

#ChallengePoverty #AyeWeCan

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