SQA boss helps Dalkeith pupils get work ready

The SQA employability workshop at Dalkeith High School. Photo by Stuart Nicol.
The SQA employability workshop at Dalkeith High School. Photo by Stuart Nicol.

Pupils in Midlothian are now better prepared to join the world of work, thanks to a series of employability workshops delivered by volunteers from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

SQA volunteers are visiting schools across the region, with the latest workshop taking place at Dalkeith High School in Midlothian.

The volunteers worked with pupils from fourth, fifth and sixth year to demonstrate interview techniques, help them practice writing application forms and personal statements, and give them an insight into the skills employers are looking for.

Two of SQA’s former Modern Apprentices, Honor Jenkinson and Cameron Marshall, got things underway by telling the pupils about the opportunities a Modern Apprenticeship has opened up to them, including the opportunity to work towards a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Business, and a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ).

As a former pupil, Cameron enjoyed returning to Dalkeith High School to provide guidance to current pupils, and inspire them with his learning journey. Cameron informed the pupils, and his former teachers, that having successfully completed SQA’s Modern Apprenticeship programme, he is now a Supervisor in the organisation’s Script Management team.

Honor and Cameron, along with colleagues from SQA’s Dalkeith office, then guided the pupils through a variety of activities aimed at helping them identify their skills and experience. These included building a ‘competency skills tower’ followed by an introduction to the ‘STAR’ interview technique. The young people then put their new found knowledge into practice when they were ‘interviewed’ by an SQA volunteer.

Fiona Robertson, SQA chief executive, joined pupils at the workshop.

She said: “SQA is a local employer and many of our staff regularly volunteer to work with local schools.

“The workshop I attended today gave young people at Dalkeith High School a real insight into what may be expected of them in the workplace or when applying for a job.

“It was a pleasure to visit the school and see the positive discussions taking place.”

Laura Gemmell, who co-ordinated the session for SQA said: “We hope that everyone who came along today’s session, and every other session we run, would be able to able to approach a real interview with more confidence in themselves and their ability to answer an interviewer’s questions.”

Mark Harris, pupil support leader at Dalkeith High School, said: “On behalf of Dalkeith High School I would just like to thank the SQA for delivering our employability session today.

“It was fantastic to see how engaged our pupils were in the event and how much they took from the session. It was also great to see one of our former pupils delivering the session also and his successes.”

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) said: “Making sure our school leavers go onto a positive destination such as further education, a job or volunteering is a key priority for us in Midlothian.

“Therefore, giving pupils across the county essential skills in interview techniques etc, is going to give them the head start they need for a bright future.”

SQA offers a range of qualifications, including Employability Awards, which recognise wider achievement and the development of skills.