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The Renfrewshire Employability Awards 2016

Invest in Renfrewshire > News  > The Renfrewshire Employability Awards 2016

The Renfrewshire Employability Awards 2016

The fourth annual Renfrewshire Employability Awards 2016 – “Aiming Higher” took place on Wednesday 16th June 2016 at the Normandy Hotel, Renfrew.

This year’s host was tv and radio presenter Bryan Burnett who helped present the awards to those who have excelled and progressed in the workplace over the past few years.

Over 100 nominations for the 9 awards came in over the previous few months. Employers and colleagues had been nominating trainees, employees and entrepreneurs who they believe are building a better future by investing their skills and efforts in Renfrewshire.

29 finalists were selected as having made excellent contributions to their workplaces and the night’s winners were chosen as examples of Renfrewshire’s excellence.

Cllr Mark Macmillan opened the evening and congratulated all who have contributed to Renfrewshire’s economic success:

“We are at a pivotal point in our economic journey: regeneration is gathering pace; unemployment is falling; businesses are growing; our investments in communities and town centres is changing our prospects; and Paisley’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2021 is already changing how we are seen and how we see ourselves.

Our success story is now the envy of many places – in Scotland and in areas all over Europe. We’ve been bucking economic trends and exceeding expectations for more than three years now. Everyone wants to know how we’re doing it, particularly how we’ve tackled youth unemployment.

We should be proud of the fact that, in the three years from the launch of Invest, Renfrewshire’s youth unemployment ranking went from 27th in Scotland (that’s 6th bottom) to being 4th best.  That is an amazing achievement.

We are now focussing on combating long term youth unemployment from Renfrewshire. And that will be a unique achievement. It will mean that our young people can be certain of the opportunity to work and build successful lives in Renfrewshire.

Our success story has been driven by Renfrewshire’s people and on Wednesday night I had the honour of speaking at the Aiming Higher employability awards and welcoming our partners and people, at all stages of their careers, who have committed to building their futures in Renfrewshire.

I was also able to set our Aiming Higher agenda.  We’ve achieved a tremendous amount and gained some real momentum but we’re aiming really high to put Renfrewshire where it should be: at the heart of the region’s economy, recognised as a centre of creativity and excellence, and admired for scales of our regeneration.

Wednesday night’s award winners and finalists are proof of the talent and drive that will power our further regeneration and help to build a thriving future for us all.”

As well as local people being recognised the Invest in Renfrewshire Team also marked the contributions of 3 local businesses who have supported the programme over the past few years…

Mirren Park School received a Special Recognition Award in appreciation of its help to prepare people to work. WindowCare also received a special Recognition Award for working closely with Invest in Renfrewshire to create employment. A third Special Recognition Award went to Scotland Excel for work with Modern Apprentices.

Here is a full list of finalists:

Most Promising New Employee


George Shand – Mirren Park Ltd WINNER

Sarah Flynn – Renfrewshire Council

Amy Ferrie – Optimize Financial Solutions Ltd


Most Promising New Entrepreneur


Siobhan Gray – Vonnie Designs

Catharine Anderson – Vouch for That Ltd WINNER

Alberto Cassoto/Hilary Masin – Sgaia Foods


 Top Intern


Emma McShane – Linstone Housing Association WINNER

Jeremi Bielecki – Renfrewshire Council

Zoe McFadyen – Gryffe High School


Best Trainee


Sean Sweeney – Renfrewshire Council

Andrew Mason – Renfrewshire Council

Gary Young – Renfrewshire Leisure, Sports Coach Academy WINNER


CV Builder (Youth)


Caitlin Donaghy – Castlehead High School WINNER

Claire Pickett – Engage Renfrewshire

Dean MacMonagle – Mary Russell School

Martin Kerr – Mary Russell School


CV Builder (Adult)


Ayodele Afolabi – Engage Renfrewshire WINNER

Kenneth Brown – Renfrew Bowling Club

Wilma Dean – Weans World Johnstone


Top Apprentice


Amanda Allan – West College Scotland WINNER

Blair McMahon – Renfrewshire Council

Drew Reid – CITB


Progression In Work


James Maclennan – Blend Coffee Lounge WINNER

Joanne Brown – Ralston out of School Care

Jennifer Thomson – Newmac Asphalt Service Ltd


Achiever of the Year


Connor Bryson – Employability Service

Nicole Coyle – Employability Services

Shannon O’Rourke – Laing O’Rourke

Colin McKenzie – Project SEARCH WINNER



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Partnership Conference on Employment and Economic Development

Our fourth annual Invest in Renfrewshire Partnership Conference took place day after The Renfrewshire Employability Awards 2016 “Aiming Higher” in the Normandy Hotel.

Over the last three years unemployment has continued to fall significantly across Renfrewshire, local jobs have increased and our economy continues to grow. While there is more positive news across Scotland and the wider UK Renfrewshire continues to have better results than the majority of other areas and has been one of the top performers in youth employment each year.

Our conference targets a large number of employability and economic development practitioners from across Renfrewshire and aims to provide:

  • An opportunity to network with other local staff and agencies;
  • A better awareness of what is happening and what is available across Renfrewshire in relation to employability, local regeneration programmes and business / economic growth;
  • Information on a range of new initiatives;
  • Plans for the future.

Our previous conferences concentrated on the theme of “Tackling Inequalities” where we agreed to concentrate our resources more effectively on those who need it most and who struggle more than others to get into employment and (2015) “Building on Success” where we considered how we move forward from a position of some strength to continue to maximise local opportunities and to ensure that our communities benefit from local regeneration programmes.

This year’s event was titled “Aiming Higher” and reflected our increasing ambitions and vision for a better and more enterprising Renfrewshire. We are in a strong position already and now aim to tackle even bigger objectives, taking decisive and visionary actions and putting Renfrewshire’s economy at the heart of our services. We are raising the bar.

[success_box]You can find presentation files from the event here:

A new regeneration framework for Renfrewshire

Alasdair Morrison, Head of Regeneration, Renfrewshire Council


City Deal – Renfrewshire’s role in the City Region

Mary Crearie, Director of Development and Housing Services, Renfrewshire Council


Opportunities from Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021

Scott Taylor, City of Culture Team


Employment success and new priorities

Ruth Cooper, Economic Development Manager, Renfrewshire Council


Emerging Sectors, Growing Jobs, Skills Gaps – training for employment

Paul Zealey, Skills Development Scotland


Childcare and our Economy

Kenny Forsyth, Children in Scotland


Afternoon Workshops:  

Theme 1: Youth: Aiming Higher and “Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce”

Chair: Alan Dick, West College Scotland

With inputs from Paula Leca DYW West, Renfrewshire Council and SDS this workshop looked at the future plans for DYW and examined our priorities for the future.


Feedback: Key Issues and Strategies for Success.

Theme 2: Enterprise: Building an Enterprise Culture and Growing Entrepreneurs Chair: David Smart, Smart Consultancy Scotland

With inputs from Renfrewshire Council; Richard Clifford, MAKLAB; and David Smart – City Deal Enterprise agenda this workshop examined how we aim higher in our enterprise agenda.


Feedback: Key Issues and Strategies for Success.

Theme 3: Inclusion: Building employability skills in under-represented and key target groups

Chair: Jean Ballantyne, DWP

With inputs from Renfrewshire Council Youth Employability Hub and Meg Dunn, University of the West of Scotland. The workshop considered the key themes of 50+ employability, Full Employment Area Status (and reducing long term youth unemployment specifically as a key priority and wider issues around under-represented groups.

Feedback: Key Issues and Strategies for Success.


Notes from conference: