Shetland pupils ‘Dare to be Different’ challenge

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L-R Jessica Dickie, Rhiana Constable. Anna McDowall and Lily Hansen pictured here at SIC Ports & Harbours, Sella Ness.

Pupils from Shetland Islands secondary schools ‘Dared to be Different’ as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

The third and fourth year pupils were encouraged to challenge gender stereotypes in the workplace and consider new opportunities.

Jessica Dickie in the control room at SIC Ports & Harbours, Sella Ness.

The ‘Dare to be Different’ programme, in partnership with Train Shetland and Shetland Islands Council, saw boys visiting traditionally female dominated workplaces while girls visited workplaces which traditionally employ more men.

Jason Bryant at North Haven Care Centre, Brae.

SDS Equality Executive Marguerite Adam said: “This is part of our Scottish Apprenticeship Week activity and we wanted to highlight the apprenticeship opportunities that are available in different industries regardless of gender.

Last year’s success meant our partners Train Shetland and Shetland Islands Council, plus the schools and managers were on board for this year. That was very encouraging as was the positive feedback from the pupils . This time pupils had even more opportunities to experience different workplaces in different sectors.”

Cameron Ritchie at Whiteness Nursery, Whiteness.

This year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week theme is Talent without Limits, celebrating the diversity that makes Scottish Apprenticeships good for individuals, employers and the economy.

This is the second year of the initiative following last year’s pilot. This year we have participants in Administration, Childcare, Engineering and Construction. We are also delighted the pupils are drawn from six of Shetland’s seven secondary schools, so we are pleased the schools have supported our project.

Kevin Briggs, Train Shetland Joint Manager

Joe Clubb face painting at Isleshaven Nursery, Lerwick

The pupils who took part came from Aith Junior High School, Anderson High School, Brae High School, Mid Yell Junior High School, Sandwick Junior High School and Whalsay Junior High School.

Dougray Bain designing a new poster at Train Shetland, Lerwick.

The pupils’ work placements included Train Shetland, Islehaven Nursery, Whiteness Nursery, North Haven Care Centre (Brae), Building Services and Roads Services (Gremista) and Marine Infrastructure and Airport Service at Sella Ness.

Boys are often placed in typically female orientated industries and girls are given opportunities in STEM and Construction. We want the message to ring true that opportunities are available for everyone and stereotypes are being challenged.

“We are already seeing signs that things are starting to change, and we are getting slightly more diversity in the gender of applicants for Modern Apprenticeships for different occupations. Changes in perceptions take time but it is good to be part of the conversation.”

Kevin encouraged people to consider any areas which they may be interested in and to get in touch with Train Shetland for more information. 

L-R Vaila Crow, Kaitlyn Carnell and Izzy Sweet getting to grips with tools at Shetland College UHI workshop

Shetland Islands Council HR Team Leader – Workforce Development Jackie Watt said: “The Council is delighted to be involved in the programme again because we do experience occupational segregation in some areas of the Council.

Having a diverse workforce is a positive thing – people are more productive and creative, and it means the Council has a bigger application pool for our ‘hard to fill’ jobs. We also have an equal pay gap that we are working to address, so this programme is a chance to do something proactive to deliver necessary change.

Giving school pupils the opportunity to speak to our current apprentices, experience the workplace and understand what careers are available in the Council seems like a great way to help young people make more informed and alternative careers choices. We hope the young people who took part will become our workforce of the future.”

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