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SDS’s success in adapting its offer and delivery to individuals and businesses in recent months, and its responsiveness to the Black Lives Matter movement, have been highlighted to the Scottish Parliament in a series of recent Committee appearances.

Our Director of Industry and Enterprise Networks, Gordon McGuinness, and two Careers Advisers, Kay Hume and Erin Bartley, have appeared at two separate sessions of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on individuals, businesses and the economy.

And our Director of HR, Carolyn Anderson, gave evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s inquiry into race equality, employment and skills.

Gordon McGuiness appeared before the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee alongside Nora Senior, the Chair of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, on 25 August. During his appearance, Gordon outlined how SDS has risen to the challenge of supporting individuals and businesses during the pandemic.

He explained how SDS has adapted our services, including the shift to online and telephone delivery of CIAG and PACE, and he spoke about our ongoing engagement looking at future delivery, such as the work being undertaken by Sandy Begbie on a Jobs Guarantee and the enhancement of the Adopt an Apprentice scheme.

You can watch the appearance on the Scottish Parliament website.

Erin Bartley, who supports individuals in West Dunbartonshire, and Kay Hume, who supports individuals in Orkney, gave evidence to the same inquiry on 15 September. Immediately before their appearance, the Committee heard from a panel of young women about how they have been affected by the current situation. 

Kay emphasised to MSPs that SDS has seized the challenge and opportunity to reach as many young people as possible during the pandemic while Erin noted that this has involved using a variety of platforms, including social media. She added that Careers Advisers have demonstrated flexibility and creativity to ensure service delivery is ongoing. 

Hearing from individuals on the youth panel was a highlight, recognising the support they have received from SDS Careers Advisers following the pandemic and how this has helped them with their planning and moving forward. Listening to this positive feedback was really reassuring to know that we are providing the right help and support at the right time.

Kay Hume, Careers Adviser

I really enjoyed hearing from the wider guidance community and how we are all adapting to the changes, as well as getting a real insight in to what concerns our young people have and how they would like us to address them and work together.

Erin Bartley, Careers Adviser

See what Erin and Kay had to say by watching the session on the Scottish Parliament website.

Separately, in her evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee inquiry into Race Equality, Employment and Skills on 10 September, Carolyn Anderson described the Black Lives Matter movement as a wake-up call, resulting in the launching of a BME Network in SDS. She added that SDS featured profiles and blogs from BME members of staff to draw attention to their experiences, which provided an opportunity for all staff to reflect on the impact of racism. 

Carolyn also took the time to underline SDS’s responsibility as a Fair Work employer and gave details of our work to make our recruitment practices more inclusive, including an anonymous application process and a move to a values-based interview process.  

Carolyn stated that the focus should be not just on numbers but on inclusion, and emphasised the importance of “valuing everybody in the workplace and the contributions that they make, rather than their having to adjust to fit in. Everybody should bring themselves and contribute in that way.” 

Carolyn’s appearance is also available to view on the Scottish Parliament website.

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