Building Futures: Perthshire School Hails Success of Year-Long Work Experience Scheme

A Blairgowrie teenager has high hopes for his future following a pioneering collaboration between his school and a local business.

Eden Gordon (15), a fourth year pupil at Blairgowrie High School, is enjoying a highly innovative year-long work placement with SteamPunk Fit Out, a joinery and interior fit out contractor offering premier fit out services across both public and private commercial sectors. Their clients include a host of bars, restaurants, shops and offices the length and breadth of the UK.

Eden Gordon is pictured with Darren Wilson, Managing Director of SteamPunk Fit Out and Melissa Lawrence, Project Officer, Developing Young Workforce at Blairgowrie High School. photographer Fraser Band 07984 163 256

Eden Gordon is pictured with Darren Wilson, Managing Director of SteamPunk Fit Out and Melissa Lawrence, Project Officer, Developing Young Workforce at Blairgowrie High School.
Fraser Band
07984 163 256


The placement, which sees Eden spend half a day at the company each week, is organised as part of the Business Partnership programme led by Developing Young Workforce (DYW) scheme. Eden has been learning and developing basic bench hand joinery, sanding and assembly skills, typically associated with entry level Apprentice placements.

Part of the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment Strategy, Blairgowrie High School’s year-long Wider Achievement in Vocational Education programme (WAVE) is thought to be the only one in Scotland compared to the more common offering of week-long work placements. Businesses accommodating pupils on the year-long scheme receive a ‘Gold’ Business Partnership award the pupils themselves gain a series of employability modules, culminating in a SQA Employability Award at National 4 level.

Darren Wilson, Managing Director of SteamPunk Fit Out hopes to take Eden on as an Apprentice at the end of S4 if he achieves good exam results in 2019.

Darren said, “Eden’s future is in his hands but it’s certainly our hope to offer him an Apprenticeship which will see him gain an amazing skillset. At SteamPunk, we’re not just about standard joinery – we’re a versatile and multi-skilled team and Eden has the right attitude and ability to be part of that. If we take him on,  he’ll learn traditional bench hand joinery and cabinetry from  our Blairgowrie base as well as travelling nationwide working on-site on an array of shopfitting projects, using modern methodology and some rare and wacky sourced materials!

Darren added, “Youth unemployment levels are currently double that of the average working age population, yet only 27% of employers offer work experience. In many ways, Scotland is not preparing or equipping many young people for the world of work.   We are therefore delighted to be bucking the trend and giving Eden this opportunity. We saw his potential the first day we met him. He’s bright, motivated, hard-working and a great team player, qualities we strive for. There are many pathways into the world of work and we very much hope to continue working with Blairgowrie High School by accommodating future placements in the years ahead.”

Meanwhile, Eden added, “I’ve wanted to be a joiner since starting woodwork in S1 but I didn’t think it was possible to do work experience in joinery, so I was really pleased to get a placement within a local company. I’m absolutely loving it and feel like one of the team. Having such long-term placements mean that the pupil and the business really get to know each other, which will hopefully lead to lots of opportunities. The programme is making a big difference to me and has given me a chance – I’m really grateful to the school and SteamPunk for starting me on this career path.”

Describing Eden as one of the scheme’s ‘success stories’, Melissa Lawrence, Project Officer – Developing Young Workforce at Blairgowrie High School explained, “Our year-long placements have proved very successful and are a great opportunity to introduce young people to the reality of working life and to help them secure and sustain employment.  We encourage all pupils to choose work experience prior to leaving school, whether they are directly entering employment or further education and Eden is a prime example of what can be achieved through hard work and commitment.”

Bev Leslie, Head Teacher added, “We are delighted that SteamPunk has offered a work placement and that Eden has grasped this opportunity and is developing skills which will hopefully lead to an Apprenticeship.  Our WAVE programme is supported by approximately 50-60 businesses in our local community each year and, similar to the placement at Steam Punk, we have many success stories.  As a school we are committed to working with our local businesses in developing our young workforce.”

As well as Eden, over 80 of his peers are currently enjoying work placements throughout Perthshire and Dundee, with pupils placed in a range of workplaces from primary schools, vets’ practices, accountancy and law firms to care homes, restaurants and hairdressing salons.

The school is always looking to develop new business relationships for both the year-long work placement programme and also for shorter term bespoke placements.  For more information, contact Melissa Lawrence, Project Officer – Developing Young Workforce on telephone 01250 871200 or email

For more information about SteamPunk Fit Out, please visit


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