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Skills Development Scotland's (SDS) Next Steps programme has helped Renfrewshire teenager Michael overcome a range of barriers and get a clearer picture of his plans for the future. 

Michael, who has autism, first met with an SDS work coach during his school transition period. It was agreed that he should start working with SDS to develop his career management skills.

Having left school, it was suggested that Michael sign up for the Next Steps programme. Next Steps is an intensive programme of career information, advice and guidance aimed at young people aged 16 to 18-and-a-half.

Michael was keen initially to look for part-time work, but the work coach encouraged him to look for voluntary work initially in order to develop his skills and prepare him for the world of work. 

He was first tasked with creating a CV through My World of Work, Scotland’s careers website. He was supported to make a few changes, and spent some time researching and discussing opportunities. 

Michael was then referred on to a local charity shop to find out about volunteering. The work coach made contact to explain Michael’s situation and what his autism means for him. 

He met with staff at the Shelter shop, and he was offered a voluntary position which would also lead to an SVQ award in customer service. 

Michael really enjoyed the job and was doing well. An opportunity arose with Enable Breaking Barriers, a supported work programme offered by Enable Scotland. This would enable Michael to further develop his customer service skills while also receiving practical support as required. 

Michael asked if it might be possible to participate in the programme and return to school at the same time. The work coach did some research and discovered that this was an option. 

SDS worked with Michael, the school, his parents and Enable Scotland staff to develop a timetable which allows him to go to school and include both his Shelter voluntary position and the Breaking Barriers programme. 

He now spends a day week at Shelter, attends school for core skills and started with Breaking Barriers in October last year. 

Michael continues to work with the SDS work coach to further develop his career management skills and to ensure that he is coping and receiving the support he needs. 

Thanks to engaging with different services and opportunities, Michael is now in a much better position when it comes to transitioning from secondary school to the world of work. 

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