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Sixteen-year-old Keri was a non-attender at school and left without a plan in place.

However, after accessing Skills Development Scotland's (SDS) Next Steps offer, the South Ayrshire teen has now secured herself a Modern Apprenticeship and is thriving in the world of work.

Keri, who has dyslexia, had been on an Activity Agreement with South Ayrshire Council after leaving school, but stopped attending when she grew frustrated by progress taking longer than expected. Council staff raised Keri’s case with SDS, and the team got in touch. 

Following an initial meeting, Keri got started on Next Steps, an intensive programme of careers information, advice and guidance support aimed at young people aged 16 to 18-and-a-half.  She began to attend the centre regularly to create a plan to work towards. 

On a weekly basis, Keri met with a work coach at the centre to work on her job search and applications, setting small goals along the way. During this time, she developed her career management skills and built her confidence. 

Keri expressed an interest in hospitality work. She started to send out speculative applications to local employers, including the Horizon Hotel in Ayr. 

She had contacted the hotel about waitressing work and was told that they were in fact recruiting for a Modern Apprentice front of house. Keri was really enthusiastic about the opportunity, keen to gain experience and a qualification at the same time. 

As Keri’s family background is quite unstable, there is not much financial support available to her. It became clear that she did not have any clothing suitable for the workplace, so SDS provided some funding to go towards something more suitable which could be used for other opportunities in the future too. 

The work coach supported Keri to identify potential work experience opportunities to help her application, including a local charity-run café. They had worked with Keri briefly while she was still at school and were happy to take her on for work experience. She got to know some of the tasks involved with the job and gained experience in dealing with customers. 

Keri completed an initial work trial shift and was asked to come back for a second shift at a busier time. She got great feedback, with the manager noting she was engaging and motivated. 

Following this experience, she applied for the apprenticeship opportunity at the hotel and was offered the job. She has now been with her employer for a few months and is doing incredibly well. 

Her manager reported: “Keri has made a great impression. She is doing very well at work and getting on with customers and colleagues alike.” 

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