More than 380 students from 83 schools in Scotland gathered in Perth to mark their completion of the Career Ready programme on Wednesday 19 April in a fantastic and heart warming ceremony at Perth Concert Hall.
Taking part in Career Ready’s largest Scottish graduation ceremony to date, students from Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Moray and Perth & Kinross were joined for the first time by students from Fife and Midlothian and 600 guests who added to the energy of the event.
In addition to celebrating the most recent tranche of graduates, the ceremony recognised those whose progress throughout the programme was outstanding, with a selection of special awards. High-flying student Cara Leigh Brown from Kinross High School scooped the prestigious Sir Winfried Bischoff Student of the Year Award. She was one of two students across the UK to win an all-expenses paid trip to London to network with business leaders from some of the UK’s leading companies.
Talking about her experience, Cara said: “Joining the Career Ready programme was the best decision I ever made. Before I joined I had very little confidence and was going down a career path that wasn’t entirely right for me, but with the guidance and encouragement of my mentor I discovered my strengths and the courage to work towards achieving my dream job.
“The programme made me realise my full potential and quite honestly changed my life for the better. Winning The Sir Winfried Bischoff Student of the Year Award is the cherry on top of the cake!”
Cara’s mentor, Emma Niven from Loch Leven’s Larder, spoke at the ceremony about the difference she had seen in Cara from the start of the programme and how proud she was to be her mentor.
The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in the Scottish Government, John Swinney, was unable to get away from parliamentary business to join the celebrations but did record a message congratulating and encouraging all the graduates.
Noella Kunda, a student from St Roch’s Secondary School in Glasgow, was the recipient of the Euan Barley Leidos Award: In recognition of a passion to support others. The award, which was a surprise on the day, is dedicated to a former Leidos Glasgow-based mentor, Euan Barley, who passed away in 2016.
Gill McNeill, Senior HR Business Partner from Leidos, said: “Euan Barley was a colleague at Leidos and a fantastic Career Ready mentor with a passion for supporting young people. Sadly, he succumbed to meningitis and passed away last year. Leidos and Euan’s family wanted to offer a fitting tribute and support a Career Ready award in his name, recognising a student from Glasgow where Euan lived and worked.
“Noella Kunda stood out for her passion and outstanding commitment she has shown to supporting others. She supports her family with childcare while juggling school studies. She has also developed a fantastic relationship with her mentor, who she describes as being a great influence in her life, helping her to understand the world of business and what she wants for her future. Being a mentor was really important to Euan, and giving this award to Noella is the perfect way to honour him.”
Anne Wexelstein, Director for Scotland at Career Ready, said: “Celebrating all the achievements of these young people who are graduating from our programme this year is a very special thing for us to do.
“We’re grateful to all the employers who have engaged with them in a number of ways over the past two years to set so many talented young people up for great futures on leaving school and for so many of them, futures they did not imagine possible when they started out on their Career Ready programme. Without our employer supporters, we could not do what we do for the growing number of students benefiting year on year. We look forward to more employers joining our expanding network as they benefit so much too.”
The event was hosted by Action Jackson who led a team of alumni emcees who also spoke about their experiences on the programme and how it has helped them progress towards career success.
Sandy Begbie, Chief People Officer at Standard Life and Scottish Advisory Board Chair, said: “Career Ready graduates are well prepared for the future. They make a really positive impression on those of us who are privileged to be involved, both personally as well as in our businesses. Our people who mentor and work with them during their internships use their skills and are challenged to think differently. Being part of Career Ready helps us build links with the future talent that we want to choose to work for us. It is a real win, win.”
To view the social media highlights from the event, click here.