"Planting Seeds" - An Employers Celebration

Thursday, 27th February 2020

On Thursday 13th February 2020 we were delighted to welcome over 120 employers to the Kingsmills Hotel to join the DYWICH board and team for our four-year anniversary celebration.

Over the last four years together, we have supported 13,821 young people by providing information and inspiration on careers and employability skills; including over 600 work experience placements.

The Scottish Government’s national DYW programme has formally involved employers with the education and skills landscape. In association with our partners Skills Development Scotland, Highland Council and Inverness College UHI; we have offered a more relevant and connected experience for our future workforce.

The event was a celebration of this contribution and a thank you to employers for the energy, time and resources they have invested in helping to highlight the great career opportunities available to young people here in the Highlands.

Guests enjoyed a drinks reception followed by a short welcome speech from Programme Manager Andy Maxtone where he outlined the achievements of the project so far and introduced the keynote speaker, Chris Dowling.


Chris Dowling, DYWICH Chairperson and Director of Cairngorm Group delivered a thought-provoking and interesting speech which reflected on his personal experience of supporting young people in the workplace. Chris shared his passionate belief in the work that DYW undertakes and outlined that the benefit is felt beyond the immediate help to young people and extends to the wider community and Highland economy.

Some takeaways from Chris’ speech;

  • Behind every statistic is a story – behind every statistic is a person
  • Unspoken expectations result in unmet expectations
  • If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid - Albert Einstein
  • There are many pathways to success
  • The Apprenticeship family benefits young people, businesses and the wider Highland economy
  • The top five growing sectors in Highland will offer 44k jobs in the next 10 years
  • Myth-busting; it’s simply untrue that H&S rules mean offering work experience is difficult/awkward, nor is it true that businesses must invest more time on employing a young person than they would any other new employee

Following Chris’ inspiring and uplifting speech, guests enjoyed networking over a delicious hot buffet prepared by Kingsmills Chefs and served by a terrific, young front of house team.

In closing, Andy Maxtone thanked the assembled employers sincerely on behalf of the team and Board at DYWICH for their enthusiastic contribution and remarked that DYW wouldn’t exist if not for the willingness of employers to get involved. Thanking the Board and the DYWICH team, Andy remarked on the positive spirit of the evening and said that the energy in the room left him encouraged for the future.


Inverness High School's Youth Enterprise Team who prepared the seed bombs

Lastly, Andy highlighted a small gift at the table for each guest; a parcel of ‘seed bombs’ which had been prepared by Inverness High School’s Young Enterprise Scotland team. This gift represented the work that all the employers present had embarked upon with DYW and was inspired by a conversation between DYWICH Operations Manager Eilidh Edgar and Raymond More of Roberston. Discussing DYW activity, Raymond described this work as “planting seeds we may never see grow”. While we may not see the end result of our work, we can have faith and trust in the fact that the effort and investment is working and will continue to make a difference to the young people, wider community and economy of the Highlands and Scotland.

Speaking after the event DYW’s Andy Maxtone said: “We’re delighted to bring together employers to celebrate the support shown for the young Highland workforce.

“Everything we do is about ensuring the region’s talented young people are best placed to succeed, and closely working with the local business community is key to that. The buy-in we’ve had from a whole range of companies and sectors is brilliant, and really helps local young people fulfill their potential right here in the Highlands.”

As we look forward to the future of the DYW programme, it was great to hear positive comments such as;

I wish we could bottle the spirit of tonight and take it out to parents” and “we enjoy working with the DYWICH team and it’s great to be appreciated”.

Clearly with such dedicated commitment we are well on our way to fulfilling the ambitions and aspirations of our future workforce.

February 2020