From a Highland Council Press Release
"A new ‘Growing Into Employment’ scheme from the Highland Council Employability Service is successfully giving out-of-work Nairnshire residents the opportunity to learn gardening skills to help them progress towards employment.
The 12-week course – which is the first of its kind – started in May. The four attendees were long-term unemployed and were referred to the scheme through Work Clubs and Skills Development Scotland. They now attend weekly sessions of talks, discussions and practical training at Sandown Community Allotment.
The scheme has been very successful. Of the four attendees, one has secured employment with a local gardening centre. Two have got work experience and some paid work at the allotments and with Keeping Nairnshire Colourful. Two are also applying for their own allotment at Sandown.
Susan Jardine, Nairn Highland Employability Adviser who set up the course said “It’s difficult to appreciate just how far away from the labour market some of the attendees were when the course started. The clients who attended have learnt so much – not just about how to grow healthy food and eat it but new friends, lots of laughs and opportunities to get employment. One client told me it was ‘an amazing feeling’ to get his first pay slip after being out of work for so long.”
“We are looking to increasing the course time and involving more potential employers for the next course. Many thanks to Robert the tutor who has been so supportive, local allotment holders, and a local resident who volunteered her time helping one of the clients.”
The scheme provides a range of benefits. The attendees are:
- Learning how to grow fresh foods – from salads to strawberries, and from asparagus to apples.
- Learning about nutrition and healthy food and lifestyles.
- Developing gardening skills that will make attendees strong candidates for employment.
- Socialising with other attendees, and getting involved in the local community at the allotment.
- Getting some paid work experience through word of mouth.
- Learning about wild-foraging.
- Trying new foods.
Topics covered in the course – run by Robert Cunningham, local gardener and arborist – include:
- Health and Safety
- Crop rotation and crop groupings
- Sowing/planting times and techniques
- Using greenhouses and poly-tunnels
- Working with orchards
- Weed control and weed management
Councillor Thomas Prag, Chairman of the Planning, Environment and Development Committee at The Highland Council said: “Growing Into Employment is another example of the brilliant and life-changing work the Employability Service do. The benefits of this project are manifold and it works on so many different levels. The new framework the Employability team has devised for provision of services is evidently working well – enabling the team to pull down the right monies, at the right time, in the right areas.”
The Highland Council Employability Service is part of the Highland Council Planning and Development Service. The team work with JobCentre Plus, Skills Development Scotland and third sector organisations to provide personalised services to people who have barriers to employment.
They work with people who are disadvantaged or disengaged from society to help them overcome these barriers and to gain and sustain employment. This includes assisting people with learning/ physical disabilities, addictions, homelessness and offending behaviour. They also work with care-leavers, lone parents and young people with additional support needs."