Making a habit of being lazy?

Grace Cowan
Grace Cowan

Grace Cowan, Training Director with GTS Solutions CIC challenges some of misconceptions around youth unemployment.

Youth unemployment is a real challenge and in today’s society, it’s harder to get a job. I hear many people say, “I want to work, I just can’t get anything”. Youths in particular struggle to gain employment, but surely fresh blood comes with enthusiasm and new ideas for any company. So why is it that employers avoid the 18-25 age bracket? I’ve heard many reasons from ‘they are unreliable, unskilled, uninterested and just darn right lazy’. Let’s say that word again….Lazy…what does that actually mean? It’s not an emotion we can’t control, so surely it is learned behaviour. Be it from a friend, a neighbour, a family member or the telly, it’s come from somewhere. Laziness is just a habit. You do something enough and it becomes a way of life. The good thing about habits though, is that they can be broken. You just need to have patience and persistence.

I’ve worked in the security industry for over ten years. A few years ago I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to be recognised as the ‘bouncer on a power trip’, the person who hates customers and throws people out just to give me something to do. Unfortunately, there are still some old school people who work this way. Surely customer service had a bigger part to play; after all, we are the first and last people you see at most licenced premises’. We are there to make sure you are safe. We’ve all had a wine or beer to many on a night out but as a Door Supervisor, I don’t need to wrestle you out the door just to make my point. This is when GTS Solutions CIC formed, a security company that also provides training. A company who works with clients to make sure customers are safe and have an enjoyable experience. And if you have enjoyed your night a bit too much, that’s when we have to become conflict negotiators, carers, first aiders and sometimes handbag searchers (although that part frustrates me, it’s amazing how many people have a small black bag and they all look the same. I never was very good at spot the difference).

Employment 2At first things were going well, but being a licensed industry, we could only use people who already had their SIA badge. They’d been working in the job for years and knew what they were doing, or at least that was their opinion. I found many who didn’t fit the image I wanted for the company, they weren’t polite, a few weren’t fit enough to run round a building and others just bored and hated their job, not for any reason…just because. That saying ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ was true in this case, for most at least.

We fell into training 18-25 year olds, and I’ll tell you now, I’ve never been so excited about my work. I’m not going to say it’s easy. Remember how I mentioned about habits? Well, we’ve come across plenty bad ones. From turning up late, mobile phones in class, coming up with fake illnesses (which we all knew meant hangover), giving up at the first hurdle, getting lost on the way to work, language and more. Do you really want me to go on?? But through our bespoke courses which run for 5 weeks, I nagged, and persisted, taught and explained why we were doing exams, I nagged again, encouraged, secretly cried at times because the challenge was daunting, gave away a few trade secrets and told stories about my own career………………………………… and finally got through. I have to stress though that I had the easy part. Can you imagine a 5 week intense course with exams most days, getting up earlier than you are used to, forcing yourself to change your lifestyle and for what – a CHANCE of a job? They all did it; they all stuck it out because they really did want to work. They had a goal, seized the opportunity and did whatever they needed to do to get to that finish line. To have that passion and commitment, I applaud you.

At the other side of the course were students who were more qualified than most in the industry, more customer service orientated, more energetic, smarter and happier. We presented our students to various employers who all said ‘I’m impressed, I want them’. With the students attitudes and presentability and us helping them to gain general life skills as well as recognised qualifications, employers quickly started to fight over them. Hearing that words from the employers, and seeing the grin on students faces, knowing they had just turned the corner on a new chapter of their life…… that’s where job satisfaction comes from.

This age group now plays a big part in our staff team, with the old dogs who could learn, and teach, and the new ones eager to learn more. I can’t help but pop into venues where past students work, quietly taking pride in the fact that GTS could help them to reach a goal. And although some move into other industries that aren’t security related, I still like to think that we helped to break that habit that some employers call laziness.




Will reform lead to a better deal for young carers?

Barbara Schuler, Policy Officer

Barbara Schuler, Policy Officer

The Scottish Government is currently asking for views on its proposals to reform the law in relation to carers. But will the changes lead to a better deal for young carers?

YouthLink Scotland’s Policy Officer Barbara Schuler looks at some of the issues.


Whenever someone wants to cite a disadvantaged group of young people who our society is failing, young carers are usually near the top of the list. Recently, however, this group is now getting some long overdue attention. syp care fair shareThe Scottish Youth Parliament is focusing on young carers this year, with their ‘Care.Fair.Share.’ campaign urging the Scottish Government to ease the financial strain facing young carers (see :

And yet more attention is being shone on these issues thanks to the Scottish Government’s consultation on legislation in relation to carers. However, is there a risk that young carers will continue to be overlooked? The Scottish Government acknowledges that young carers are something of a hidden group. Research suggests that there around 100,000 young people providing care to family members, yet only 3,500 are officially recognised as carers. Identification is important, not least because young carers may be struggling to get by without adequate support.

Ideally, no child or young person should be a carer. That isn’t to say that caring can’t have positive aspects or that young people don’t get anything out of it. However, it’s a heavy burden to place on young shoulders. Sadly, being a young carer is associated with a range of negative outcomes. In the worst case scenarios it can deprive young people of their right to be young, have fun and spend time with their friends. In many cases, caring can place young people under undue stress and take a toll on their own mental and physical wellbeing. For all these reasons and more, it’s better to prevent young people becoming carers in the first place.

So, will the new proposals do anything to help young carers? Well, possibly, but there are some inconsistencies with the approach being put forward. The move to rebrand carer’s assessments as carer’s support plans is welcome, as assessment has rather negative overtones. However, young carers won’t be eligible for a support plan, as it’s adults-only. The assumption is that young carers will be assessed to see if they are eligible for a Child’s Plan under the new Children and Young People Act, which has just gained Royal Assent. However, as the Government’s proposals point out, not all young carers will be eligible for a Child’s Plan. Where does that leave young carers who don’t qualify for the adult Carer’s Support Plan, but can’t get a Child’s Plan either? The concern is that many young carers will be left in limbo, unidentified and unable to access the support they’re entitled to.

As a way around this, might it be better to introduce Young Carer’s Support Plans? That way, young carers can be provided with a specialist, tailored package of support. I can see the advantages of the Child’s Plan approach, in that keeping young carers within the GIRFEC framework will hopefully ensure that the focus is on their needs as a young person first and foremost. But on the other hand, a specific Young Carer’s Support Plan would help to identify young carers as a group, and would arguably provide a more targeted response to the very specific needs that young carers have, as opposed to adult carers – or indeed other young people.

Since prevention is better than cure, it would make sense for support plans for cared-for adults to take account of whether they are a parent, and ensure that adequate support is provided so that children and young people in the family will not expected to take on caring responsibilities. Named Persons and Child’s Plans should, in turn, take account of parents’, sibling and grandparents’ health needs and whether there are adequate care arrangements in place.

The proposals state that the Scottish Government has decided not to go down the route of family-based assessments, which some parents and carers favour. The argument is that it would be difficult to legislate for this type of assessment, although individual assessments can cross-reference each other. For instance, the Child’s Plan can take parents’ views into account. However, this is different from looking at the needs of the whole family in a holistic way. There is a risk that young carers’ needs will be overlooked, either because they aren’t included in the cared-for adult’s plan, or because siblings, parents and/or the young person’s role as a carer have not been included as part of the Child’s Plan.

Young Carer’s Support Plans, alongside a statutory requirement for local areas to develop young carer’s strategies, would arguably be more effective in identifying and then supporting young carers. Given that the Scottish Government has commissioned a Young Carers’ Rights Charter, would it not be more consistent to have Young Carer’s Support Plans too?

Join the debate below or if you are a member organisation of YouthLink Scotland please send your comments to by Tuesday 15th April.

The new national strategy and why we need more youth work

Dona Milne Specialist in Public Health

Dona Milne Specialist in Public Health

Dona Milne, Chair, Lothian Association of Youth Clubs – @donamilne

Today Scotland got a new National Youth Work Strategy that outlines ambitions for improving the life chances of young people in Scotland. For those of us already involved in youth work, what’s new?

Through my long association with youth work over the previous 25 years, I welcome the recognition given to the role of youth work in supporting young people to realise their potential. We have long known about the positive impact of youth work in the lives of young people and indeed, many of the current and previous volunteers and youth workers were themselves those same young people who attended their local youth group.

We know the value of the youth work pound in terms of early intervention and working alongside young people to find their path and place in society (the Christie Commission could almost have been written about youth work!).

Youth work makes a unique contribution to young people’s lives. There are three essential features recognised in the Statement on the Nature and Purpose of Youth Work:

  • young people choose to participate
  • the work must build from where young people are and
  • youth work recognises the young person and the youth worker as partners in a learning process.

So how do we do achieve these? I have to admit that I am a huge fan of community based youth work. It provides the foundation to develop relationships with young people. It is non-stigmatising and local, providing the opportunity for young people to take part in their community. It builds a foundation for more targeted work with those that need it or have particular interests.

Youth workers and young people work together to create a place for young people to realise their potential – it’s all about building relationships and creating opportunities. The most important thing is that youth workers start from where the young person starts, dealing with the hopes, fears, concerns, aspirations and ambitions that young people have for themselves and their future.

Good youth work looks effortless – adults and young people working together, enjoying themselves and learning new things. But, good youth work requires effort, good youth work is deliberate, it is designed for individuals and groups of young people – a good youth worker knows what they are doing and how to create the right learning environment for young people.

There are many people who are not youth workers using youth work approaches and we should be heartened that the Strategy sees the value and makes explicit reference to youth work approaches, however let’s be clear that it is community based youth work that meets the three essential features of youth work that makes the real difference to young people.

As with all new strategies there isn’t much detail in it. There will be some people who are happy with it and others who are not. But whatever your view, let’s remember that it’s a starting point and gives youth work a prominent place within Scotland’s policies for young people. I agree that we should have ambitions for young people in Scotland – as Lisa Whittaker said in her blog last week – it is not young people that lack aspiration but they do lack opportunities.

So, if I could add one thing to the strategy, what would it be? For me, it’s a commitment to provide community based youth work for all young people in Scotland. This is wholly compatible with the strategy and I would encourage every local authority in Scotland to do this as part of their local youth work provision. After all, the strategy is the starting point for a renewed commitment to youth work, so let the good work continue – who knows where it might take us?

You can read the strategy here: