Scottish Government – Work Experience Programme with the Social Justice Strategy Unit
Hopes, fears and impressions
I love the idea of coming into Glasgow city centre to work, as it is very interesting compared to school which is often rather boring and repetitive. The office was light, bright and open plan which isn’t what I was expecting it to be like as it is very modern. Everyone in the office has been very welcoming and willing to help or answer any questions or queries that I had. Most of my friends were working in shops and schools and didn’t know what they were going to do whilst on their work experience placement. As I was told in advance what my work timetable for the week would be I was less stressed about going to my work experience placement.
Through my work experience I hope to gain an understanding of how the Scottish Government works. I think the initial plan for the week is good as it is a varied workload and it will give me a varied insight into the working life of a civil servant. The part of my schedule that I am most looking forward to is Thursday as I am traveling to parliament to watch First Ministers Questions (FMQ). I am looking forward to this as I love watching political debates and speeches as they are engaging and sometimes rather amusing. My favourite part of my first day was talking to Karen about what the Scottish Government does and how the interact with government ministers.
Tuesday working and beginning to settle
On Tuesday I did some research for Karen and went to seminar on ‘family friendly working’ which aimed to give workers more flexible hours of work allowing them to spend more time with their family. In the seminar there were employers from many businesses who were interested in family friendly working schemes. The seminar wasn’t the most interesting however, it highlighted a key issue in society which is the work life balance. The aim of the seminar was to show employers how they could improve employees work life. After the seminar I continued some research for a ministers briefing which Karen had asked me to do, which isn’t the easiest thing to do as all the information sources contradict each other. After this I attended their team meeting where they discussed what the aims for the months and weeks ahead were and how they were going to achieve them, although half of the graphs and tables representing information about poverty in Scotland were rather confusing.
Once the meeting had finished I went to meet the Rent Services department and they told me about all the different work that they under take on a daily basis. Rent Services deal with issues such as private rental accommodation by dealing with rogue landlords and survey properties and give them a rental estimate of how much a property should rent for based on the number of bedrooms and living rooms; the aim of this is to avoid people being overcharged for a property. I learned that they also have the power to stop a landlord from renting out a property if it is not fit for human inhabitancy and therefore they will condemn the property meaning that it cannot be rented out until the owner completes the necessary repairs. Over all I feel that Tuesday has be a more relaxed day and I feel that I have begun to settle in a bit more as I have been introduced to more people in the office and I am more aware of the work that I will have to do whilst my work placement.
Wednesday hump day with a lot of speed bumps
On Wednesday morning I helped Karen and Andrew with their Fairer Scotland presentation that they had created for pupils form John Paul Academy to answer questions that they had asked as part of their assignment. When they ran through the presentation there were a couple of things that needed further explanation, but overall the presentation was gauged at a correct level of language and wasn’t too technical.
Afterwards I spoke to Matthew about Modern Apprenticeships (MA) with the Scottish government. He told me about how he himself was granted a MA placement, and what he is required to do as part of that placement. I then asked him if you had to have any exam passes to which the answer was no; this was good news as I was asking on behalf of my little brother who has dyscalculia (dyslexia with numbers), as he would possibly be interested in this sort of job when he is older as he finds it very hard at school and wouldn’t be able to go to university. After lunch Karen helped me create a CV so that if I look for a part time job then I would have a CV that would stand out from the rest.
After this I met with Donna who is a member of the Regeneration Unit. I learned that the Regeneration Unit is very important and plays a vital role in eradicating poverty and in Scotland by helping communities take control of local buildings and working with them to help people from deprived backgrounds in their community. I learned about all the work that is being undertaken to help deprived areas and communities and the different types of funding and government grants that are available to people to help their communities flourish. I also learned about the role that the regeneration team played in the re-gentrification of the East End of Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games and some of the work that is still going on as part of the Commonwealth Legacy.
For the rest of the afternoon I sat with Andrew and Karen whilst they delivered their presentation on the Fairer Scotland project, to the pupils of John Paul Academy and they answered any questions which the pupils had about the government’s strategy to tackling child poverty. Overall I feel that Wednesday was a rather good day as I didn’t have to do much work compared to Tuesday.
Thursday – non-stop learning
On Thursday morning Shona took me on a very early train to Edinburgh to meet the ‘climate change’ team at the government’s Victoria Quay office. Whilst I was there I met Gavin who is a member the Scottish Governments climate change unit. He told me about all the important work that Scotland is undertaking in order to lower its emissions in the effort to become a carbon neutral economy. During our meeting I learned about ways in which First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and her government will do in order to tackle climate change and stop the threat global warming poses. He was very interested in the ways in which my school sources its water and heating as he didn’t know of schools which were doing these things in order to have a lower carbon footprint. I also learned about the new offshore wind farms that are planned to be instated off the coast of Scotland and the technology and design of the turbines which will allow the government to undertake this ambitious project.
After this we travelled to the Scottish Parliament to watch FMQ which was very interesting as I got to see all the politicians and watch them quiz the first minister who tried to dodge questions. My one complaint about the experience would be that the seats were wooden and didn’t have any padding which was rather uncomfortable. After FMQ we walked to Saint Andrews house to meet the elections team, although I think Shona almost died as her short cut her phone told her about involved a massive hill. When we eventually reached Saint Andrews house I met Rebecca who is a member of the elections team in the Scottish Government. When we went in she told me about all the work that the elections team does and how they prepare for elections or referenda. She told me about the role that her team is playing in the upcoming council elections and their new electronic system which they have developed to count the votes and the breaking point of the system which is 200,000 votes; but it isn’t expected that it will be required to count that number of votes as council elections usually have a low turnout rate. Overall I think that Thursday was by far the most exciting and interesting days I loved visiting the parliament and watching FMQ.
On Friday I have finished at least half of my CV and looked over my week in the Scottish Government. I will have completed this blog and my school work experience booklet by the end of today. After finishing some more of my CV I had a meeting with the employability for young people division. When I met Paul he started by telling me about what the employability for young people unit does. I learned that his department deal with schemes such as the modern and foundation apprenticeships, he also told me about Skills Development Scotland and the careers advisers that work for them. He also told me about the stigmas attached to apprenticeships and how they are tackling these. I also learned that the number of school aged pupils staying on till 5th & 6th year is increasing which is a positive thing as it means that more people are going on to university and college therefore going on to get better jobs when they are older.
Looking back and looking forward
Throughout my week in the Scottish Government I have learned a lot about the structure of government and the work that goes on behind the scenes to help the government function. By far the best part of my week was going to FMQ as I love watching debates and political question time. I will be sad to leave the government as it has been so much fun and I have learned a lot and I would highly recommend it for other people looking to do work experience in politics and current affairs.