Podcast Episode: Young Scotland's Got Talent
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MM - Michael McEwan
ML - Maura Lynch
Young Scotland’s Got Talent is an employment campaign for young people with learning difficulties, as well as young people with autism. Campaign organiser, Maura Lynch, explains to Michael McEwan why the campaign is as much about fun as information.
MM First off Moira, what is Young Scotland’s Got Talent?
ML Young Scotland’s Got Talent is a campaign that has been set up recognising that the number of young people with a learning disability and autism are not getting jobs and are not getting into the workplace. So we started Young Scotland’s Got Talent several years ago as a way to do a number of different things - to bring the information that young people need to make choices about jobs to one place, to give young people an inspiration about what is possible by seeing some role models of young people who have been very successful, and also for it to be fun and interesting. One of the things about Young Scotland’s Got Talent has always been, it’s about making conferences and events interesting for young people. We knew if we tried to put on an event that was like a bog standard conference, it wouldn’t engage young people, they wouldn’t be interested, and they wouldn’t go away thinking they had a good experience. So Young Scotland’s Got Talent is as much about fun as it is about information.
MM So tell me what happens at these events during the day?
ML A number of things happen at the event. One of the things is we have a marketplace where organisations, for example, Skills Development Scotland, Department of Work and Pensions, Local Support Employment organisations, local Colleges, all come along and have stalls in the marketplace. So if you are a young person or a parent or a teachers, and you want to find more about employment opportunities in your area, you can come along to the marketplace and meet these organisations. So you don’t have to go on websites or source them - they will be there on the day. The other thing that happens is we have workshops where again, in an interesting and fun way, we tackle some of the issues and some of the things that young people might be interested in. So for example there might be a workshop on how to put a CV together, but it will be done in an interesting way. Or it might be about what kind of support is in your area - so the support employment organisations might do a workshop about what services they offer. But I suppose one of the most interesting things about Young Scotland’s Got Talent is the talent showcase, which is a bit like a fashion show with a difference, where young people who have got jobs already come onto the catwalk and tell people about their jobs and what they have been doing, and explain what is good about getting a job, what they find interesting, sometimes what they get paid, sometimes what they use their money to do, to go out at night. And also what they do, because they are wearing their work clothes, people can see what that job involves, what you have to wear to that job. And the whole event is compared by a comedian called Susan Morrison - and Susan makes sure that the whole day is fun and interesting, and she makes sure she asks the questions that everyone wants to ask about what people’s jobs are really like.
MM So who is this event aimed at then?
ML It’s primarily aimed at young people who are at what’s called ‘transition’, who may be finishing school, thinking about a job, thinking about college, or may are not quite sure what they want to do. It’s also aimed at teachers, it’s aimed at parents, it’s aimed at young people who have perhaps already been at college and have left college, or some young people who have maybe not decided what they wanted to do and may have been unemployed for a couple of years. So Young Scotland’s Got Talent is really for those young people who have been thinking about work and want to find out what’s available.
MM So whereabouts do you get your funding to hold these events?
ML Well the funding for Young Scotland’s Got Talent tends to be on a project by project basis - we would love to have national funding that we could run a series of events in areas that haven’t had a Young Scotland’s Got Talent - but at the moment it really is dependent on areas where they can raise the funding and where there is some local money that we can pool together to run an event. The events are not that expensive in relative terms, because we get a lot of young people and a lot of schools coming along to them - but we do usually find some funding from Skills Development Scotland, sometimes we get the premises donated - colleges have donated premises in the past, churches have donated premises in the past. And sometimes Scottish government, through their youth employment initiatives, have also given us some money. So it tends to be a cocktail of funding has got to be put together to run a Young Scotland’s Got Talent.
MM Now I’ve been involved in some Young Scotland’s Got Talent before …
ML Yes, you have.
MM Can you tell us where they have been to in Scotland?
ML Young Scotland’s Got Talent has been all over Scotland - I’ll try and remember all the areas it’s been to - it’s been as far north as Inverness, it’s been to Aberdeen, it’s been to Falkirk, it’s been to Glasgow several times, to Edinburgh. It’s been to East Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire and soon it will be in Lanarkshire … on 1st April it will be in Lanarkshire. So there has been a fair spread across the country. In some areas, for example in Aberdeen, it’s been there more than once. But there are lots of parts of Scotland that have yet to have a Young Scotland’s Got Talent and we would really interested in going to these areas, because we think the need is the same whether you live in Shettleston or you live in Skye - young people still have same needs and want the same information.
MM And you forgot to mention that we had a big event a few years ago, I think it was about 3 years ago now, up at Hampden?
ML Yes, Hampden was our first Young Scotland’s Got Talent - yes, well remembered, that was one of the Glasgow events. Yes, that was our very first Young Scotland’s Got Talent - and that was the one that we opened up Scotland-wide and had over 450 young people at that event, and a waiting list of about 300 more people. And that’s when we realised that it would make more sense to actually have regional events, so we now have an Aberdeen event, or we have a Glasgow event - we wouldn’t have a Scotland-wide event because we couldn’t really cope with the demand. That was a lesson that we learned, having run our first one. But yes, Hampden was our first and our largest Young Scotland’s Got Talent event.
MM So what message are you trying to get across to employers and other people in the public about Young Scotland’s Got Talent?
ML I think what Young Scotland’s Got Talent does, is it sends out a number of messages - it shows employers that we have some very talented young people with a learning disability and autism that can work and want to work, and just need the opportunity to show what they can do. It shows some young people who have maybe not decided what kind of career or what kind of job that they personally want to do. It gives examples of the types of jobs that people have already, and it also gives employers the opportunity to display what some of the jobs mean. For example in Inverclyde, one of the areas that we went to, there was a bricklayer who was showing some of the young people how to build a wall using bricks. We had a chef who was showing people how you gut fish and prepare fish for a restaurant. So it gives young people the opportunity to find out what some jobs really are about, and lets them make some choice about if that is something they would be interested in.
MM So what has the feedback been like at these events? Have they all been positive?
ML I have to say, they have all been positive. After every event we do an evaluation, and recently we have been fortunate to have electronic feedback pads, so the young people are able to give us instant feedback on what they found positive about the event and anything that they would suggest that we change. And we have very positive feedback, both in terms of young people’s confidence about looking for a job, and also their interest in other jobs and other careers that they perhaps hadn’t thought of before they came along to Young Scotland’s Got Talent.
MM Now this is a new year, so a new year for Young Scotland’s Got Talent - you have got some events coming up this year - April 1st?
ML Yes, April 1st is our first Young Scotland’s Got Talent this year, and it will be held in 101 Park Street in Coatbridge. It’s a joint event with both North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council and the two Support Employment Services within those councils, and is heavily supported by New College Lanarkshire, where the premises have been donated by the College itself. So yes, it’s a really good example of SCLD (… unclear) working together with local partners to run a Young Scotland’s Got Talent, and we are very much looking forward to it.
MM Now you have been running this campaign for a couple of years now - where do you see it going, you know, developing in the future?
ML Well we have had plans for a number of years now to try and expand Young Scotland’s Got Talent across the country. I think as I said earlier, at the moment it’s kind of dependent on local organisations getting together and finding the funding and then we can put on a Young Scotland’s Got Talent event. There is obviously parts of Scotland and local authorities and local areas that don’t have those resources to put together, so we would like to target and identify areas of Scotland where we think Young Scotland’s Got Talent could make a real difference, and have the funding to go into those areas and run local events. We also have a plan that we would like to leave some Legacy Committees behind, so that once we have run a Young Scotland’s Got Talent event in an area, the local committee could then pick that up and pick up the resources and then run their own Young Scotland’s Got Talent in their own area, once we have run our first one and let them know what to do.
MM Now if people want to know more about Young Scotland’s Got Talent, are you on Facebook or Twitter or anything?
ML Yes, Young Scotland’s Got Talent is on Facebook and on Twitter - by all means contact us that way, or you can contact Values Into Action Scotland who also have Twitter and a website, or our own organisation, the Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability, who would be more than happy to talk about Young Scotland’s Got Talent, either to parents, to young people, to organisations who are interested in running their own Young Scotland’s Got Talent, or anyone who might want to contribute to any of our future events.
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