Career path blossoms for Neil

Neil Kerr is pictured with Mirella Crolla, of Midlothian Councils Lifelong Learning and Employability Service (left) and the Depute Manager of Dobbies, Dee Rutherford (right).
Neil Kerr is pictured with Mirella Crolla, of Midlothian Councils Lifelong Learning and Employability Service (left) and the Depute Manager of Dobbies, Dee Rutherford (right).

The number of Midlothian teenagers heading for positive destinations such as a job, further education or volunteering is continuing to rise.

Over the last year, an average of 88.7 per cent of the county’s 16-19-year-olds headed for a ‘positive destination’.

The figure, published by the national skills agency, Skills Development Scotland, is 4.6 per cent higher than the previous year.

Midlothian’s education spokesman Councillor Bob Constable said: “This is also an encouraging improvement which follows on the back of the previously announced three per cent increase in school leaver destinations back in June.

“We realise it’s vital to continue to support teenagers, not just when they leave school, but also for two or three years afterwards to make sure they don’t slip through the net.”

One such person is 17-year-old Neil Kerr, who has secured a job at Dobbies.

The former Newbattle pupil was unemployed. He had come to the attention of the council’s Lifelong Learning and Employability team through Skills Development Scotland.

Key worker Mirella Crolla approached Neil to offer help and support. He said: “It was a bit unexpected but I felt relieved as I’d been trying to get a job but nothing was happening.”

Mirella started working with Neil in April with the aim of helping him get a job in retail. Neil said: “Mirella suggested I do some work experience, which I thought was a really good idea.”

Mirella contacted the Lasswade-based garden centre where depute manager Dee Rutherford arranged a meeting with Neil. Mirella helped coach Neil on how to handle an interview and he was taken on a work experience programme on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

Within a couple weekends of starting, a customer was so impressed with Neil’s skills she brought this to the attention of the company.

In June, a vacancy arose and Dee encouraged Neil to apply. He was successful and he is now working 16 hours per week on a temporary contract.

Neil said: “I’m really enjoying it. It’s fast-paced, everything is new and I love working with the public.”

Neil has been so successful that he has now been nominated for employee of the month.