One in four young people in Glasgow are unemployed, so the city’s new youth employment and enterprise hub certainly has a job to do on its hands.
But, the Prince’s Trust Scotland run enterprise, which opened just last month is determined to make a dent in the city’s shameful record in youth employment.
The four storey building also serves as the trust’s first ever permanent headquarters in Scotland. Previously known as Cumbrae House, the building has been rebranded the Wolfson Centre in honour of one of the trust’s biggest sponsors, the Wolfson Foundation, and has been completely renovated since the charity bought it last year.
It’s the biggest building the trust has owned anywhere in the UK and is unique in Scotland in that every one of its development programmes (see below) can be delivered within it.
“The Wolfson Centre is transformational for the trust in Scotland,” says Allan Watt, director of Prince’s Trust Scotland.
“What I would like to think is that any young person – who is unemployed or doesn’t know what they would like to do – who walks in here will leave with a positive option in front of them.
“Time and time again when we look round and talk to young people the biggest thing holding them back is they don’t think they have any options or opportunities.
“The more we can put in front of them the better. Hopefully, they will meet somebody here who will listen to them and ask them the question about what they want to do, what they are good at, or actually help them uncover that within them.”
It’s expected at least 9,000 young people will pass through the hub’s doors and be helped into work, training or starting a business in the first year.
Including a brightly coloured reception, the ground floor houses a digital classroom, cafeteria and training kitchen and activity room.
The classroom, kitted out by Samsung for free, is full of computers, tablets and even a 75-inch TV display screen. It will be used to improve young people’s digital literacy and offer more detailed skills training useful in all of the trust’s programmes.
The cafeteria and training kitchen is used to teach young people catering and hospitality skills and the activity room, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, has comfy seating and a pool table and has the most traditional youth centre feel to it.
Upstairs on the first floor, 150 of the Prince’s Trust Scotland staff are working together from one building for the first time. The office acts as a contact centre for over 1,000 volunteers, making it far easier to connect young people to trust programmes and referral organisations.
The second floor has office space and meeting rooms for other charities to use. It’s hoped this will foster a collaborative space for partners to support each other and help join-up young people’s journeys by supporting youth employment and enterprise in Scotland. Organisations are invited to get in touch and those involved so far include, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Advocacy Project and Skills Development Scotland.
The top floor, boasting an impressively large outside balcony area wrapping around the side of the building, sets the centre out on its own.
Dedicated as the Enterprise floor, it is a series of classrooms, meeting rooms and an exhibition space which will be used to offer training, mentoring and one-to-one support to help young people set up their own businesses.
Its potential is massive. Scotland already accounts for a disproportionate amount of the number of Prince’s Trust young business startups – one third is from north of the border.
“We have never owned a building, we’ve always been in short term leases and the trust has had to move a number of times in the last few years,” Watt continued.
“The trust had an office and young people’s centre up in Maryhill which was great for north Glasgow but it was hard for young people from elsewhere to get to.
"We had to rent or beg, borrow and steal premises in the Clyde Valley.
“43 per cent of Scotland’s unemployed young people are only one bus ride away from here.”
Watt joined the trust in 2013, following a spell as a head of communications at RBS.
By that point the trust had already decided it needed a new building but its plans weren’t initially so spectacular.
Watt continued: “We got young people involved in talking about what it could look like, where it could it, what kind of atmosphere would they wanted and the building designed itself.
“We were then left with finding a building that we could renovate buy and potentially fund in order to make all of that happen.”
Importantly to the trust the building has been funded as a capital project so hasn’t eaten into its reserves or money that would otherwise have gone to its programmes.
A significant amount of funding came from The Wolfson Foundation and from the Scottish Government.
Other funders included the likes of Samsung, RBS, The Robertson Trust, many other national and local businesses and philanthropists.
“The story we told unlocked money we hadn’t been able to access before,” Watt added.
“Very quickly we started to get some confidence that actually there was going to be not only enough money to find a building but actually transform it into something we really wanted.”
What’s on offer at the Prince’s Trust
Participants get to try new activities and learn the skills needed to help finish education, go to college or get a job. The clubs follow an informal programme and operate for people aged 13 to 19 who are in schools, pupil referral units, community youth centres, young offender institutions and other centres.
Team is a 12-week personal developmentprogramme which is run and managed by partner organisations in 21 locationsacross Scotland. Aimed at people aged 16 to 25 who are unemployed as well assome people who are sponsored by their employers.
Short courses that engage and develop youngpeople through themes such as sport or the arts and support them into furthereducation, training or employment. Aimed at young people aged 16 to 25 who areunemployed.
An individually tailored personal developmentprogramme combining one-to-one support and group activities, delivered byFairbridge staff at Prince’s Trust centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.Aimed at the most disengaged people who are aged between 13 and 25.
Short courses that develop young people’sskills in a specific sector and support them into jobs. Aimed at young peopleaged 16 to 25 who are unemployed.
Cash awards of up to £500 to help young peopleaccess education, training and employment. Participants can receive a cashaward to help them with transport for a job, childcare costs, interviewclothes, professional licence fees and equipment for a job. Aimed at 14 to 16year olds in education and 16 to 25 year olds not in education, training orworking less than 16 hours a week.
Support and funding to help young peopleexplore and test their ideas, write plans and start their own businesses orachieve other goals in education, training, work or volunteering. Aimed atpeople aged 18 to 30 who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a weekand interested in self-employment.
Youth Business Scotland
The programme gives practical advice on how tostart up a business, including how to write a business plan, introductoryfinance training as well as business start-up funding. Aimed at people aged 18to 30.