Windfarm funding powers Rowan's career aims

Published: Thursday 13 June 2024

Rowan is pictured on site at wiston lodge holding a bow and arrow, Behind him are two archery targets.

A teenager who grew up on the doorstep of a South Lanarkshire windfarm has his ideal career in his sights...

...thanks to the Connect2Renewables Employability Initiative.

Seventeen-year-old Rowan Johnstone left Biggar High School last summer and took up a place on Glasgow Kelvin College’s Sports, Fitness and Adventure Sports course. 

However, from his home in the village of Crawfordjohn, public transport options are limited, which meant that travel to and from college, as well as access to other training opportunities, was a challenge.

That’s when Rowan approached the council team that steers the initiative to find out what they could do to help, as its range of grants and financial supports are specifically designed to remove barriers to training and work, often experienced by young people in rural communities. 

Connect2Renewables paid Rowan the Further Education Grant of £500 to help him start college. Subsequent funding was also available for access to training to complement his studies.  

So far, this support has enabled him to achieve Outdoor First Aid, REHISS Outdoor Food Hygiene, and Archery Leader qualifications. Connect2 Renewables funding has also allowed him to train towards Powerboat Level 2, Mountain Navigation Skills, Paddle Sport Instructor, and Climbing Wall Leader awards.

And already, the training is paying off, as the new qualifications have helped Rowan secure paid work at Wiston Lodge, where he had previously volunteered. This includes leading archery classes for South Lanarkshire primary school pupils (below).

In this picture Rowan is on site at wiston lodge helping a primary school pupil practice archery.


Explained Wilma Weir, Vocational Development Officer for the council: “There are communities within our rural area which are not even on a bus route, and for young people, leaving school and looking for training or work, this creates a significant disadvantage.

“Essentially, this is what the Connect2Renewables Fund is for, to help those living in more remote areas to have access to the same opportunities as their peers; ensuring that location is not a barrier and does not lead to exclusion and inequality.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Rowan, from the day he dropped into one of our outreach events, to where he is now - following a dedicated career path and growing in confidence and ability.”

Rowan says that the financial support provided to him by the fund has been invaluable: “It has allowed me to get training that I would otherwise not have got and has put me in a really strong position for securing full-time work when I finish college.

“I'm really grateful to everyone at Wiston Lodge and Connect2Renewables who have supported me on my career journey this year.”

The South Lanarkshire Council and OnPath Energy (formerly Banks Renewables) Employability Initiative partnership is funded from a proportion of the community benefit funds from Middle Muir Windfarm, Crawfordjohn, and Kype Muir Windfarm, Strathaven. 

The purpose of the fund is to help people living within 10km of either windfarm into employment by providing: 

  • new skills and re-training options 
  • employability advice and support 
  • help with travel to work, training, or childcare.

People who are workless or unemployed, and who live within 10km of either windfarm can apply.

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