2 May 2014
MORE than 1500 Scottish businesses have backed a new
qualification aimed at tackling youth unemployment.
The Certificate of Work Readiness was launched a year ago to
help young people prove they are ready for work - as they only
receive the qualification after passing an on-the-job assessment by
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland(RZSS) - the charity
that runs Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park - is the
latest business to support the Certificate and has adapted its work
experience programme to meet the criteria for the
The first recruits start their training at the Zoo on Monday (5
May) and yesterday met with the Cabinet Secretary for Training,
Youth and Women's Employment on the first anniversary of the launch
of the Certificate of Work Readiness.
Alaina Macri, Senior Education Officer at Edinburgh Zoo,
explained: "The Zoo is a fantastic environment for young people to
be introduced to the world of work.
"Although Edinburgh Zoo is normally associated with animal care
roles, we also have numerous areas of the business - from education
to gardens, visitor services to marketing - these all offer great
learning opportunities. With this in mind we developed the ZEST
(Zoo & Environment Skills Training) programme to give people
training an insight into the various industries and job roles
within the Zoo."
Investment management company,
Baillie Gifford soon backed the ZEST programme and due to its
success, agreed to extend funding to support an enhanced version of
the training experience and the Certificate of Work Readiness.
Alaina added: "In addition to our
existing programme, we are now able to offer ZEST CWR, opening up
the Zoo to young people not in education, employment or training,
rather than school pupils. We had heard about the Certificate of
Work Readiness when it launched and are now delighted to be able to
include it in RZSS's education offering."
Stephen Woollard, Head of Discovery
and Learning for RZSS added: "We are delighted to not only give
people valuable work experience at Edinburgh Zoo, but to help them
achieve a qualification that they can take with them to show other
employers they have the foundation skills needed for the
The adapted ZEST programme is
offering six placements at Edinburgh Zoo, as well as two places at
the Highland Wildlife Park. All participants will have the
opportunity to achieve the SQA Certificate of Work Readiness.
Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and
Women's Employment, said: "It is great to see Edinburgh Zoo, one of
Scotland's most iconic tourist destinations, supporting the
long-term career ambitions of young people by developing their own
Certificate of Work Readiness model.
"As an employer with a huge variety of positions, the Zoo is a
fantastic environment for young people to learn in. Adopting the
Certificate of Work Readiness shows organisations are committed to
offering high quality training and work experience which benefits
future prospective employers, our economy and of course the
"We will continue to do everything in our power to support
employment and training opportunities for young people. The
certificate is an integral part of our unique commitment of an
offer of a place in education and training for 16 to 19 years olds
through our Opportunities for All commitment and by creating 30,000
Modern Apprenticeships every year."
Michelle Gibson, Project Manager of
the Certificate of Work Readiness at SDS, added: "When we launched
the Certificate of Work Readiness a year ago, it was in response to
the age old complaint of the business community that those starting
their career do not have work experience.
"Our ambition was for employers to
embrace this qualification but the response from business has
surpassed expectations. It speaks volumes that over 1500 employers
have offered work placements and assessments, and it is heartening
to see Edinburgh Zoo take the qualification 'off the shelf' and
deliver a tailored version within their existing training
"The Certificate is not only giving
employers the tool they asked for to eliminate questions around new
recruits being 'job-ready', it's also helping young people move in
to employment and that, in turn, is vital for our economy."
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