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After leaving school with no qualifications, Aberdeenshire teenager Hannah thought she didn’t have any options – but Skills Development Scotland's (SDS) Next Steps programme helped her see what was possible. 

Hannah struggled to attend school in S4 due to anxiety, and eventually became a school refuser.  

Despite leaving school with no formal qualifications, she was granted entry to study Introduction to Music at her local college – but didn’t attend. She soon dropped out of the course.

Her school careers adviser contacted Hannah and her mum and introduced them to a work coach at the local SDS centre. 

Hannah attended her first appointment at the centre with her mum, and quickly realised how much the SDS team could help her.  

Hannah decided to get involved with SDS’s Next Steps programme, a service aimed at unemployed young people aged 16 to 18-and-a-half, or up to 25 if they are care experienced. Participants are entitled to intensive careers information, advice and guidance support to help them transition from school. 

Her work coach met with Hannah at times that suited her and supported her to look at her options – making it clear that there was no pressure to move on until she was ready. 

Through weekly meetings, Hannah built up her confidence and started to see what she was capable of.

"My best decision was to leave school and get some support. It really made a difference to me to help me move forward."

With her work coach, Hannah undertook a range of activities relating to career management skills, building up a strong image of her skills and strengths. She started making choices from the options available to her based on what was likely to work and what she was ready for.   

Volunteering locally was the path she decided on. She has gone on to successfully complete Employability Fund Stage 2 course with Barnardo’s – a programme designed to help young people access training opportunities that will in turn support them into employment. She also started volunteering at a local Barnardo’s shop. 

Hannah always wanted to do something with her life but felt that because of her school and college experience that she wouldn’t stick at it and wouldn’t turn up.  

She now has work experience in the retail sector and is considering progressing onto Employability Fund Stage 3 to gain experience in a more commercial workplace. She has also been able to complete her first SQA qualification. 

She now has long-term plans of moving to Glasgow, where she knows she will still be able to access support from SDS. 

Hannah says: “My best decision was to leave school and get some support. It really made a difference to me to help me move forward.” 

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