A programme which creates job opportunities in the third sector for vulnerable unemployed young people across Scotland is celebrating its 8,000th employee.

Zara Turner (21) – a Hospitality Assistant at Callander Youth Project – is the latest young person to secure a job via Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) – an employability programme run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), in partnership with the Scottish Government.

Now in its 7th year, CJS has seen over 8,000 young people move into jobs with over 650 third sector organisations across Scotland. For the latest phase, the team have has a particular focus on those aged 16-29 who are care experienced, carers, people with convictions, people with disabilities and long term health conditions, and early Armed Forces service leavers.

At an event held in Callander earlier today, Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn MSP presented Ms Turner with a certificate to highlight the achievement:

Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “I am delighted to welcome the 8,000th participant of the Community Jobs Scotland programme which, over the last seven years, has supported many of our most vulnerable young people to transition into training and the workplace. The programme has been part of the range of initiatives the Scottish Government has supported to help improve the prospects of Scotland’s young people and to getting the country amongst the best performers across the EU for youth unemployment.”

Lucy McTernan, Acting Chief Executive for SCVO, said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating our 8,000th CJS employee in Callander today. It’s a fantastic achievement for both Zara and the Community Jobs Scotland team, and it’s thanks to over 650 third sector employers like Callander Youth Project Trust that we have managed to create employment opportunities for so many young people across the country over the last seven years. The support and experience that young people obtain through the jobs CJS creates is invaluable and helps build their confidence to go on to bigger and better things, while also benefitting their local communities. It’s a hugely successful initiative.”

Callander Youth Project Trust aims to improve the quality of life of young people in Callander and the surrounding rural areas by maximising their potential through access to the best possible recreation and educational facilities, support and resources. As well as running a range of programmes aimed at young people, the team also runs a highly successful café and hostel.

Jamie Proudfoot, Senior Youth Support Worker at Callander Youth Project, said: “As a third sector organisation we find the helpful from SCVO to be invaluable because it provides young people to come along and contribute positively to what we do. In return, we can provide them with the skills, training, experience and qualifications to flourish.”

Zara Turner, 21, started working at Callander Youth as a CJS Hospitality Worker last month, but only found out this morning that she was the 8,000th CJS employee in Scotland: “It’s very impressive. Since starting as a CJS employee here I’ve become a happier person, I am enjoying the job and I have made some good friends as well. Everybody at Callander Youth Project supports me and I couldn’t be any more grateful for their help.”