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Highland charity receives £100k boost to transform young lives

By Val Sweeney

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Training Manager Peter Doherty with some of the young people with a kit car which will be built from scratch.
Training Manager Peter Doherty with some of the young people with a kit car which will be built from scratch.

A pioneering charity with a track record for transforming young lives has managed to get a massive cash boost over the finishing line.

Day1, which is funded by the Inverness Kart Raceway, has won a new £100,000 contract from Scotland’s national skills agency.

For more than 15 years, Day1 has helped mentor children on the cusp of adulthood make better career and educational choices.

The charity has typically helped from 25 to 40 school kids a year with cash earned by the kart track, which is a social enterprise on the Fairways industrial estate.

Each child is designated a trained volunteer for one-to-one mentoring, while Day1 has also enjoyed great success through group skills learning focused on the building of kit racing cars.

Now Skills Development Scotland (SDS), has awarded the cash to take on another 60 youngsters on a 12-month Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) accredited course.

The award is part of a raft of Scottish Government-driven pilot projects aimed at bringing work-based learning to children at a younger age.

Pupils from four schools – Inverness Royal Academy, Charleston Academy, Inverness High School and Millburn Academy – will take part, with some already enlisted.

Day1’s chief executive Corrin Henderson explained: “We had already been asked by Skills Development Scotland to take on 40 children.

“They would not have been giving us an extra 50 per cent on those numbers if they didn’t believe in our ability to convert their programme into a reality for young people.

“It is SQA-accredited, so there is an actual hard automotive skills qualification coming at the end of it.

“Just as importantly, there’s a secondary qualification they get in employability skills, softer skills learned in areas like leadership, communication and innovation.

“These are skills that are good for the workplace and they are aiming to impart some of those skills to people who come on this particular foundation apprenticeship.”

Inverness Kart Raceway has been given £100,000 to expand its mentoring programme.
Inverness Kart Raceway has been given £100,000 to expand its mentoring programme.

The mechanism in which children are taught these skills is through assembly of a kit car. The groups use the components of the kit car and an old ‘donor’ car – a Ford Focus ST170 – with all the parts retrievable from it recycled in the process.

Mr Henderson stressed: “The kids will learn pretty much every aspect of the systems within a car and that goes all the way from how to clean a car right up to the mechanics of how a car and engine actually works.

“The course we will provide for them has set the bar very high and way higher than the course we’ve been commissioned to deliver.

“It is more like a level five or six qualification, when in fact it’s a level four. We’ve been contracted to deliver.

“It is going to be a thoroughly good, thoroughly rounded exercise in auto-motive training and what we’re telling the kids – and this is the important part – is that this is going to set them up as a stepping stone into employment either in that particular industry or indeed to any other technical industry.

“These skills can be taken and applied to other industries.”

The introduction of work-based learning at an earlier stage in pupils’ learning through apprenticeships has been identified by the Scottish Government as a way to improve Scotland’s productivity and meet future skills challenges.

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