Staff Spotlight: An Interview with Gary Mitchell

In this week’s Staff Spotlight, we will be talking to Gary Mitchell, an Employment Adviser at East Lothian Works. Having worked in the field for ten years, Gary is a key figure when it comes to employment for young people in the Local Authority. Therefore he seemed to be the perfect person to speak to in order to learn more about his job role at East Lothian Works.

What does your job involve?
I meet with young people aged between sixteen and twenty who have left school without a positive destination.  The reasons for this are varied, but could include lack of qualifications; health issues; family issues; young parents; young people involved with the criminal justice system; young people with additional support needs. I work with them to develop the skills they need to move on to training, college, or work.

What is your favourite part about your job?
My favourite part is seeing how, with a little or large amount of support, and by pointing young people along the correct path, they start to believe in themselves and see what they can achieve.

What is the most difficult part about your job?
The most difficult part is getting young people to believe in the service and the work we do, but mostly it is about getting them to believe in themselves and engaging with the service.

What is a typical day in the working life like for you?
There is not really a typical day, which is why I love this job! However I tend to come into work and check emails and texts. I then look at my diary and see what plans I have for the coming day. This can range from; taking young people to an activity; to interview training; travel training; supporting with forms; creating action plans with young people; looking at work experience placements, and so on. I often meet young people for the first time as new referrals and engage with them by trying to get them to speak about themselves.

How did you get into this line of work?
I started off working as a support worker with another organisation. I then saw the opportunity to work with disabled people by trying to get them into employment which I thought was a great challenge. I was then asked to work within the youth team, and here I am!

What types of people do you work with on a daily basis?
I work with disenfranchised young people; young people who might be anxious about their future; young people with low self-esteem; young people who want to work but have somehow lost their way. Some young people experience poor mental health and need support to move on.

Why is your service important?
I believe the service is important because many of the young people I work with have not been able to engage at school or feel let down by overstretched supporting services, and are not trusting of any organisations there to help them. We make young people aware that there are services out there who won’t dismiss them, who will listen and try and take some action regarding their concerns and look at the issues which have inhibited them from getting a job.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Gary for answering my many questions. If you are interested in the services that East Lothian Works offers, contact elworks@eastlothian.gov.uk for more information.

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