Working Rite

Posted by editor 26/09/2013 0 Comment 3096 views

riteBy Jenny McBain //

Working Rite is an answer for NEETS and governments alike

Disenchantment with school and a reluctance to get out of bed in the morning can constitute the first steps on a bleak road to long-term unemployment for young people.  The problem of how to help so called NEETS – that is young people who are not in employment, education or training – has defeated successive governments.  But now there is a successful approach called Working Rite which sees over 75 per cent of participants moving into full-time work or appreticeships.

Sandy Campbell, who is based in Edinburgh, set up Working Rite in 2004 with the clear aim of pairing young people with elders in a work situation so they can develop a positive approach to employment and learn how to be an adult.

He says, “You have to get a hold of kids as soon as you can after they leave school.  Young people in their late teens – especially boys – are hardwired to show off.  If you leave them in the company of peers they will show off to them.  But if you put them with adults, they will jump over a higher bar,

The scheme is quite simple.  Tradesmen or women are matched up with young people who could benefit from an introduction to the world of work.  Plumbers, painters and decorators and hair stylists are just some of the trades on offer.   Employers pay £35 a week to take on a young worker for a period of up to 6 months.  The trainees receive £90 a week for their efforts and are expected to turn up on time and take the placement seriously.

Sandy says, “Because employers are paying towards the young person’s allowance, they are truly invested in engendering a sense of routine and discipline.  What we find is that employers are naturally adept at steering teenagers into the realities of work in a no nonsense practical way.”

Working Rite is now a charity.  It looks for funding to subsidise work placements and acts as a matchmaking service between young people and potential employers.  The scheme borrows from the principles of old-fashioned apprenticeships but offers greater accessibility and flexibility.

One of the fascinating things about the Working Rite approach is that there are often additional positive benefits for trainees which extend beyond the realms of work.  One teenager was taught to read by his boss using the sports pages of a tabloid newspaper; and community police officers have reported their astonishment at the change in attitude exhibited by some youngsters who were previously known as troublemakers.

For a long time the college and training approach has dominated when it comes to investment in young people.  But classroom-based learning does not suit everyone.  Now, after almost a decade of concerted effort, the funding argument is being won and Working Rite is expanding into England with three new projects starting this autumn.

Sandy says, “The simplicity of our approach can potentially strike a chord across the western world.  However, keeping it simple is the challenge.  It goes within the grain of what lies deep within our society.  Elders need to guide young people into adult hood and the workplace is the perfect setting.”


Seventeen year old Dylon Robinson from Ayrshire spent three years in care towards the end of his schooling.  He was shy and unsure about what to do with his life, having just a vague idea that he might like to work as a chef or in a warehouse.

He says, “When I was sixteen I was getting a bit fed up with the school routine and I really wanted to get a job.  That’s when I was presented with the Working Rite opportunity.

Dylon was given a six-month placement, working in the warehouse of Plumbline Supplies – a plumbers’ merchants in Irvine, Ayrshire. It took a while to get into the ways of work.  He says, “I had my ups and downs and was late a couple of times.”

After being given intensive support and encouragement, Dylon proved himself to be a valuable employee and now has a fulltime position with the company working in the warehouse, loading and unloading goods and serving customers.  He is very thankful for how things have turned out and says he now has a good laugh at work and feels  he is part of a team.

He says, “I have friends who left school with good grades and that but they are sitting around at home and going to the job centre because they have no work.  Working Rite has definitely been a good thing for me.  If you stick at it, it can be great.”

…because everyone remembers their first boss.





Write Your Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest Tweets

  • Loading...