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Former Galashiels Academy pupil takes her first careers steps thanks to tailored careers advice

Young Borders woman finds employment thanks to tailored support.

Emma Fairley 2

When Aimee Ferguson was referred to Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Careers Adviser Emma Fairley, it was the first step on her career journey.

The then-Galashiels Academy pupil was unable to attend school for a multitude of reasons and needed support to build her confidence to achieve her potential.

School Careers Adviser Emma’s first instinct was to meet Aimee away from the school setting. Aimee and two friends were invited to meet Emma at the local Langlee Community Centre. Emma committed to listening and getting to know Aimee as a person, including her concerns as well as her strengths and interests. The Adviser also coordinated with the school to allow Aimee to attend meetings at the SDS public centre. These took place every Monday morning at 10am and provided a safe space for honest discussions about Aimee’s future.

Emma continued to build trust with Aimee by showing her that she had skills and networks that she had not previously considered and encouraged Aimee to aim for her goal, which is to be a chef. As Aimee considered leaving school, Emma and No One Left Behind Employment Development Officers offered help to prepare Aimee for post-school life by engaging her in a Stage Two Employability programme.

Aimee left school in December 2022 and became eligible for SDS’s ‘Next Steps’ offer. This helps young people make informed choices about further learning and career options.

Emma continued to meet with Aimee and was delighted when Aimee revealed she had independently applied for a job as a Kitchen Assistant, such was the progress in building her confidence.

Emma and Aimee then worked together on preparations for Aimee’s interview. They covered what to expect, what to wear, possible questions and why Aimee wanted the job.

The thorough support paid off as Aimee phoned Emma to let her know she was offered the job. Emma was delighted to receive feedback from the employer, to say how impressed they were with Aimee’s enthusiasm and preparedness. And although they had other more qualified candidates these attributes contributed to Aimee landing the job.

Fiona Tait, Bursar at St Mary’s School in Melrose said: “Aimee was one of seven candidates interviewed for our Kitchen Assistant vacancy. She spoke clearly and was able to respond to all our questions. Although she didn’t have a huge amount of experience, she was clearly enthusiastic and keen to develop the skills she did have further. Aimee has been a great addition to the kitchen team. She is hard working, cheery and engages well with pupils and staff. She continues to be keen to learn and I know that our Assistant Chef has taken her under her wing to help develop her skillset.

Emma Fairley 1

Emma said: “Being able to engage with Aimee before she left school was so important, as it gave us time to build a trusting relationship. Then having the flexibility to work with Aimee for as long as she required my support, I think really helped Aimee achieve her goal.”

How careers advice can help you

Does Aimee’s story resonate with you? SDS Careers Advisers are in every Scottish state school as well as in centres and community locations across Scotland.

If you’re thinking about your future or unsure about what to do, you can get free, impartial advice to help make informed decisions. Get in touch with your school Careers Adviser directly through the school, call 0800 917 8000 or find your nearest SDS location at