In 2018, ScottishPower worked alongside project partners ENABLE Scotland and the University of Strathclyde to run Breaking Barriers, an innovative programme that creates employment opportunities for young people with learning disabilities. The project was part of ScottishPower’s broader commitment to create a diverse workforce and inclusive environment.
The first year of the programme supported eight young people with learning difficulties to access higher education and employment opportunities. The learners aged 18-24 studied for a Certificate in Applied Business Skills at the University of Strathclyde Business School and gained valuable work experience during an eight-week placement with ScottishPower.
Through one-to-one meetings and group sessions, ScottishPower’s HR team identified each learner’s strengths and aspirations to develop tailored programmes that inspired them to consider future careers. Each learner was also matched with a ScottishPower ‘buddy’ to guide them through their internship by providing advice and support.
Over the course of the internship, the learners developed a range of transferable skills from IT and administration to communication and established themselves as valuable members of the ScottishPower team.
At the heart of the project’s success was making the business welcoming to these young people with accessible working environments, facilities and ongoing support. It was complemented by an extensive internal communications campaign to make everyone in the company aware of the programme and the benefits of a diverse workforce with differently abled people.
Breaking Barriers learner Andrew Warnock said: “Breaking Barriers is giving opportunities to people from all backgrounds but specifically those with learning disabilities, opening doors to a range of career choices. I’ve worked in customer service, the legal team and digital – I’ve felt really involved. Thanks to the programme and the people I’ve met, I’ve managed to find a job with a web development company.”
The project was deemed a resounding success by project partners and the Scottish Government. It was shortlisted in The Herald Higher Education Awards. It has been confirmed that Breaking Barriers will return for a second year in 2019.
ScottishPower are proud to be sponsoring The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Conference again in 2019. Join them on the day by visiting https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-herald-and-genanalytics-diversity-conference-2019-tickets-57989204271