Highland Council’s Employability Provision Rapidly Adapts During Covid 19 Lock Down


With the vast majority of The Highland Council’s employability support to out-of-work young people and adults being undertaken face to face, the Covid 19 Lockdown could have been a particular challenge. However, in response to the request that they keep services running, many of the Council’s contracted employability providers have rapidly change their way of working, harnessing IT to continue to help clients get ready for work.

One such example is the Employability Team’s support provided to Makenzie Garret who has been getting support from Ullapool based artist and filmmaker Angelica Kroeger.

Makenzie explained: “Since the end of my face to face sessions with Angelica back in March due to the unexpected event of covid-19, I have had to conquer my fear by continuing to meet online through Skype. Talking to people on the phone and on the internet was something that I have always struggled with. But with constant reassurance and trust from my tutor, I have since then still continued weekly with her on Skype and I am now so thankful for overcoming my fear with it all.”

Tutor Angelica added: “Makenzie and I have been working together in weekly sessions but with lockdown, this would have brought that to an abrupt end. I asked Mackenzie how she would feel about continuing our sessions with the use of online platforms such as Skype and Google Classroom. At first Makenzie was hesitant, but we set up her Skype account together and tried it out in situ whilst we still could meet. We have since continued or sessions online on a weekly basis.

“From my perspective the online sessions have been a great success. Makenzie has made great progress during this time, on her writing, but also in the use of online platforms and opportunities. Whilst this setup should not be a replacement for face-to-face meetings, I can absolutely recommend it as a very suitable additional alternative to providing the service”.

The Council’s Employability Team services which help out-of-work young people and adults get ready for work is supported through The Highland Council, the Scottish Government and European Social Fund finances. They are supported in this work by a number of providers including Calman Trust, Barnardo’s and Merkinch Partnership who have also adapted to provide on-line support. 

Chair of the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Trish Robertson said: “A lot of people have had to think very creatively and flexibly on how they can provide services and support during this pandemic so well done to everyone involved. It is important that clients have not felt abandoned so although nothing can be as good as face-to-face communication, by staying in touch like this a rapport is being maintained.  I think what Makenzie and Angelica are doing is an excellent example of adapting and using technology to fill a gap.

“The core of our Employability Service is identifying individual’s needs and providing them with a service that addresses these specific needs. With Covid-19 the challenges facing our young people is even greater and now, more than ever, we need to make sure we can offer people like Makenzie, the most comprehensive support possible as she prepares and looks for work. As the lockdown restrictions ease we anticipate we will be moving to a more blended form of support with our online services continuing and then increasingly being complemented with face to face support.”

To contact the Council’s Employability Service email employability@highland.gov.uk


14 Jul 2020