Forestry Commission Scotland tackling youth unemployment

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Forestry Commission Scotland is to give around 440 young unemployed people a helping hand to find a job through a range of woodland-based skills training. 

The training is part of the Scottish Government’s national drive to tackle youth unemployment and is being delivered in the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area.

The training is run in partnership with a number of training providers from social enterprise and third sector organisations.  

Participants are taught forestry and employability skills while they carry out forest maintenance tasks that are helpful to the Commission’s teams and local communities.  Tasks include chainsaw training, scrub cutting, high pruning and landscaping.

Welcoming the skills training at the start of Scottish Environment Week, Paul Wheelhouse, Environment & Climate Change Minister, said:

“Young people are our future and can have a lot to offer in terms of creativity, ambition and drive.  Quite often, all they need is some practical support to help build their confidence and skills so that they can take the first step towards finding a job.

“The Commission’s training is helping open up opportunities and is giving youngsters a better chance in life. The fact that this environmental work is also helping local communities is very welcome too.”

The skills programme was first established via a pilot in 2011 to tackle unemployment among 16-24 year olds.  Over half of those completing the pilot continued on to further training, volunteer roles or employment with 36% in a job six months after finishing.

The project has been extended to 2015 and by then Forestry Commission Scotland will have trained up around 650 young people in total.

Joneen Clarke, Employment Skills Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland, said:

“Participants work on either land managed by the Commission or publicly owned land within the CSGN area for between 10 – 26 weeks.  Often beginning with low self-esteem, little structure and motivation in their lives, by the end of the programme, many have gained the confidence to progress to the next step.  This could involve exploring new avenues from volunteering to further training and, in many cases, full time employment.”

One of the training providers working with Forestry Commission Scotland is Living Solutions based in Cowdenbeath.  The provider is running two Fife-based courses covering Callendar and Blairadam woodlands.

Paul Cruise, Executive Director and Development Manager for Living Solutions, said:

“Our participants receive both soft and certified training.  Soft skills development includes employability, teamworking, social skills and confidence building.  They also gain certified training in the use of a chainsaw, emergency first aid, manual handling, Lantra woodchipping, use of a high pole powered saw, a foundation certificate in the use of chemicals and knapsack spraying.

“Over and above these courses, they will get experience of extracting timber, transporting it and seeing the timber processed into products ranging from housing and graded timber through to construction and craft products.”

Craig Cessford, 18, from Dalgety Bay, left school at 16 because he was dyslexic and was struggling with reading and writing.  He joined the Youth Skills Programme with Living Solutions.

Craig said: "The programme is all about teaching young folk to adapt to working life, helping you to understand what employers want and giving you the skills but also the confidence to make your life better.

“I now have a job working on the Dalmeny Estate and have also worked with Central Forestry.  I hope to use what I've learned to set up my own business in the future.”

Participants work in groups ranging from vulnerable young adults with learning difficulties to those who have served a custodial sentence.

In 2013, several all-female groups will help to encourage more women into forestry careers while asylum seekers will be trained in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council.

Training is currently being offered via six training providers in the following areas:

•        Glasgow and North Lanarkshire (Action for Children)

•        Renfrewshire (Barnardos)

•        North and South Ayrshire (East Ayrshire Woodlands)

•        Fife (Living Solutions)

•        Falkirk and North Lanarkshire (Scottish Waterways Trust)

•        Johnstone (Phoenix Futures)

To find out more about ways to get involved in the Youth Skills Programme, please contact: Joneen Clarke, Employment Skills Manager at Forestry Commission Scotland,    

Notes to Editors

1.    Scottish Environment Week runs from 19th to 24th February and is organised by Scottish Environment Link. For more information log on to

2.    Images attached show Samantha Hancock, age 16 from Glenrothes and James O'Donell, age 20 from Cowdenbeath.

3.    Issued by Golley Slater on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland.

4.    The Skills Programme is delivered via a framework contract.  Skills providers receive funding from Forestry Commission Scotland and arerequired to match the funding to deliver the programme.  Skills providers include:

·       Phoenix Futures

·       Living Solutions

·       Barnardos

·       Action for Children

·       Scottish Waterways Trust

·       East Ayrshire Woodlands

5.    Skills providers are responsible for recruitment, supplying suitable materials and tools for young people to wear and work with and carrying out the skills training while being supported by FCS’s Skills Programme Team.

6.    The CSGN stretches from Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Dunbartonshire in the west to Fife and the Lothians in the east. 

7.    Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate

8.    For news, events and recreation information log on to or

9.    Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.

10.    Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.