Calman Trust

A Capable Young Workforce

Across the country, the recession has impacted seriously on young people preparing to enter the workforce for the first time.

There is competition for every job, and employers often choose the olden more experienced candidate over the young person who they consider more risky. So how do we build the workforce we will need in future?

This is where Calman Trust comes in. Calman knows what employers are looking for, because the organisation is itself an employer operating a number of internal businesses.

However, unlike an ordinary employer, Calman’s objective is to put through its hands as many young people as possible, and to move them on when they reach the peak of performance.

Calman exists to provide support and training to young people in the Highlands. Training takes place within Calman enterprises, which are commercial businesses with real customers and real demands: all are staffed by young people.

In Artysans on Strothers Lane, Inverness, and CCC cafe, and Artysans’ outside catering service, young staff undertake tasks ranging from customer service and retail to kitchen and front of house skills, health and safety, and product development including roasting the cafe’s own house blended coffee.

At HR3D, a design and print business on the city’s Longman Industrial Estate, young people work in staff teams to produce customised work and leisure wear, school uniforms, promotional goods and gifts.

Training manager Helena Bryce said: “This is a very happy working environment, but it is also extremely demanding. Every process must be completed to a professional standard where you don’t let people down.

“This reduces the risk for employers, who can have confidence that they are employing someone with a good track record and who is genuinely interested in their business.

“Each young person leaves us with a nationally recognised qualification, a track record of sustaining employment, and vocational and transferable skills including the ability to engage with customers, which evidences to a prospective employer the qualities of a good, reliable employee.

“The young person operates at a level to deliver on customer and commercial expectations – the standard requirement in any workplace.

“Working alongside experienced trainers to develop their skills, no young person has failed to achieve this.”

Chief executive Isobel Grigor explained that Calman can help employers in a variety of ways:

  • An employer can work with Calman to source a suitable candidate, and be assured that the young person identified will be genuinely ready for work.
  • Calman can work with employers to design limited term work placements as extended practical test of a candidate’s suitability.
  • Calman can provide additional specific training if required to support an individual’s progression at work.
  • Calman can provide continuing support to both employer and employee for as long as it takes to establish a new post.
  • Calman also provides support to young people to deal with the practical difficulties that can arise when their circumstances change, so that this wont interfere with their work commitments.

Corey Marshall (19) works in Artysans’ café and explained how Calman has helped him: “Working as part of a team has helped my confidence.

“I’ve learnt kitchen skills from food preparation to health and safety, but also customer skills, keeping my cool in the team, coming to work on time and being reliable. I like coming to work.”

This is a business model that has proved hugely successful, and one that Isobel believes could lead the way in building the Highland workforce.

“We can offer candidates who are job ready, fresh and with a good track record,” she said. “This matters to the whole economy of the Highlands and the future quality of life in this area.

“Rather than having a young labour force wasted, we can work with employers now to develop the workforce of the future, which is needed ultimately to support the Highland population.”

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