Young people: Are you searching for opportunities?

A PROJECT run and owned by young people and designed to provide a central point for their peers to access opportunities and services across the north-east was launched at Lochter Activity Centre last Wednesday.

The Youth Opportunities Database Aberdeenshire, or YODA for short, aims to promote local opportunities, support, training and employment. It is also a chance for providers of these opportunities, such as private companies and voluntary organisations, to engage with local young people.

Placement of their opportunities on the YODA website is effectively free advertising, and could help fill any suitable vacancies they may have.

YODA is also intended to be an invaluable source of information for council staff and teachers in the area dealing with young people leaving school and in the following years.

Young people across Aberdeenshire have already been researching and collating information to upload to the website, and it is hoped they will continue to be involved in the site’s maintenance and running in the future.

The project has the support of Aberdeenshire Council’s web team and will be linked to the authority’s own web pages, making it easy to search other relevant information, such as bus timetables, leisure opportunities and health and finance resources.

The project has come about as a result of a Scottish Government initiative, through Skills Development Scotland, and around 20 young people helped set up the project, gaining qualifications in the process.

They are gathering portfolio evidence to be presented for SQA accreditation and using their volunteering hours to qualify for an award from Volunteer Centre Scotland.

Potential providers have been consulted on the proposals to find out what opportunities, such as work experience or jobs, are available, and their feedback has been incorporated into the database.

“YODA is an opportunity for young people to be proactive about their future, using a local, friendly resource which is designed by young people for young people,” said YODA co-ordinator Pamela Munro.

“We also hope it will raise awareness of opportunities and services for young people throughout the north-east, particularly services for young people who may need more choices and chances in life.”

Mrs Munro added: “The creation of this online interactive database offering support for young people has already had an impact in terms of them learning a whole set of new skills.

“We hope that young people in the wider community will also be able to reap the rewards of this work and increase their chances of a positive destination on leaving school.”

According to 17-year-old Ashleigh Corfield who is working toward her volunteer award, it was difficult and “hard work” at first, but it got easier and more interesting as time went on.

Dennis Youngson (17) said: “It has given me confidence to interact with others. It means folk of our age group can look for job opportunities or get help to work through issues.”

Gary Graham, whose sights are on becoming a studio musician, also worked on the programme. He said: ”The website is for people in school, about to leave school or for people who have already left. It is a confidence booster because, in launching the site, we have spoken to a lot of people about it.”

To view the YODA website, visit www.aberdeenshire.youthinfo.info.