News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Youth employment skills training

Our Employment Skills Programme works with young people who are furthest from the job market, many have had chaotic lifestyles and have to deal with learning difficulties, drug and alcohol issues, homelessness, criminal records and workless families. The programme is designed to equip them with skills training, work experience and formal qualifications in order to help them gain paid employment.

Training in the outdoors has a very positive effect in terms of delivering technical skills, as well as other skills including: communication; team work; increasing self confidence; and self belief.

Green Action Angels

Green action angels

Scottish Waterways Trust developed a group called Green Action Angels.

What was particularly effective about this programme was that the co-leader, Lyndsey, has already been through the programme, going on to gain employment as a co-leader for the Green Action Angels and becoming a core member of the Green Action team.

Having suffered from narcolepsy (falling asleep) most of her teenage life, Lyndsey found it difficult to secure employment and  couldn’t work indoors. She volunteered for both programmes, gaining news skills, and increasing her confidence. Having been through the programme, she is an inspiration to the young people in the group.

Lyndsey led eight women, all with various barriers to employment, including learning difficulties, major confidence issues, abusive backgrounds and chaotic lifestyles. They worked in woodlands around the Falkirk Wheel, carrying out activities such as stone carving, paper making and willow weaving. They were also involved in the development of a secret garden, including vegetation clearance, path creation, design and construction of a story telling chair.

Action for Children

Lee had taken part in the first North Lanarkshire Employability Fund Stage 2 Challenge Programme in June 2014. He had issues with low self-confidence, addiction issues to alcohol and had commenced his three year benefit sanction, for failing to turn up for his scheduled appointments and conduct job searches.

After completing all elements of the Stage 2 project, he was offered a placement on the Stage 3 Forestry Programme.  He took up the offer and performed consistently.   Upon successfully obtaining his Construction Skills Certification Scheme card towards the end of the programme, his CV was sent to a construction company for consideration. Watts Construction offered him a two week work trial with a potential for paid employment on completion of this trial period.  Lee performed well and was offered paid employment.


Laura, 25, came to the course with some barriers to employment, having been unemployed for over eight months, had little qualifications and a history of substance misuse. As the oldest in the group Laura had the most work experience and had a strong work ethic. However, she had low-self esteem and this often resulted in Laura being upset during the programme.

With support, Laura’s confidence developed and she found ways of coping with her emotions. Laura impressed the employer with her strong work ethic and ability to use the strimmer and brushcutter to a high standard which resulted extra shifts with the employer.

Skills training on the NFE


Here's some of the key highlights from the programme which has been running since 2011:

  • In 2011/12, 203 young people aged between 16 and 24 received forest based training and employability skills. Programmes lasted in excess of ten weeks, and the majority of participants were from areas of higher social deprivation and from under-represented parts of society;
  • In 2012/13, 245 young people within the CSGN received employment skills training. Participants mainly came from areas of multiple deprivation;
  • In 2013/14, 93 full time trainees and 124 part time trainees within the CSGN area attended the programme. We started looking at trends in who was applying and identified gaps in particular groups; and
  • In 2014/15 118 young people were trained, with 70% of the funding being directed towards positive action to promote protected characteristics groups (principally female trainees and young people with mental disabilities).

Young person on skills course