A local entrepreneur has helped young people gain a barrel-load of skills and experience through a UK Government jobs scheme.
Rory MacDonald, who runs The Whisky Chairmen in Greenock, has taken on five new staff through the Kickstart programme, with Inverclyde Chamber acting as the gateway organisation.
The project helps young people aged 16-24 who are receiving Universal Credit to find six-month work placements so they can gain experience and skills that will set them up for future employment.
Whisky Chairmen’s primary focus is turning end-of-life whisky barrels into luxury furniture, but those appointed are filling a variety of roles within the business.
New recruits have been helping in the workshop, managing marketing and sales and assisting craftsmen – and told the Tele they’re gaining valuable hands-on work experience.
Amy Leith, who was brought on as a workshop assistant, says that the scheme has given her a supportive environment to develop her skill set.
She added: “I’ve been trying to find a job for ages and it’s been really difficult.
“I suffer from anxiety and employers don’t always understand that, but Rory has been great.
“You get good experience and the chance to pick up a lot of new things. Kickstart has been brilliant for me.”
Amy and fellow employees Allan Ayre and Rhys McGhee, all pictured, are yet to get the chance to work on restoring one of the workshop’s old oak barrels – but Rory hopes they will soon all be ‘hands on’.
In the meantime, the trio has been given some smaller tasks to develop up their woodwork skills.
Rory, who has been unemployed himself, says that Kickstart gives those furthest from work the chance to build up a bank of real-world experience.
He said: “I think the scheme is fantastic.
“Having been unemployed in the past, I wish something like this existed for me back then.
“It works well for both the business and the employee and it would be great if the government continued to run it past the end of this year.
“I can’t thank Andrew Bowman at Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce and Kathleen McCormick at the Jobcentre enough for their hard work in getting this going in Inverclyde.
“Both of them are outstanding and have made this process very easy.”
For more details on The Whisky Chairmen – click here.
This article and image appeared in the Greenock Telegraph.