Helping young people into education and jobs in Scotland

Statistics from the Scottish Government show that while nearly 40% of all school leavers go directly on to Higher Education, this number drops to only around 1% for young people in care. That’s why MCR Pathways, in conjunction with The Herald, has been trying to connect young people in care with mentors who can help them remain in education and boost their prospects for getting jobs in Scotland and right across the world.  We spoke to Marie McQuade from the project to find out more.











Glasgow University. MCR Pathways is trying to help more young people in Glasgow to see the inside of it, not just the outside.

Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the MCR Pathways project?

At MCR, we know that there is amazing potential and talent in young people. Every single one can be varied, unique and inspiring. But, for many, that potential has yet to be discovered. Life experience has knocked the confidence out of some, firmly locking away those seeds of flair and hope. It is our aim to uncover, nurture, develop and help to realise the skills and capabilities in looked-after young people. We know that each person has a specific set of abilities and passions and we want to see them flourish in the arena that is right for them. We support looked-after young people practically, guiding them on pathways to education, employment and fulfilling lives.

It all started with founder Iain MacRitchie and Programme Director Donna Cunningham in St Andrew’s in the East End of Glasgow. They mentored Liam, Donna and Nicole and their stories can be followed on MCR

What’s your own role with MCR?

To help recruit 500 mentors by the end of 2015, across 10 schools in Glasgow and beyond this, to recruit mentors for disadvantaged young people across all the schools in Glasgow.

Are there any particular success stories that stand out for you?

Yes, Liam’s full story is documented on the website:

From learning support in primary to leaving school with 4 Highers and into a BSc (Hons) university course is something I’m very proud of. Even after I left school, my MCR mentor was so willing to help when I applied for my much needed scholarship, helping me with the application and giving me a reference. I was successful with my scholarship application and it will make so many things possible that weren’t before; overseas work experience, European trips and general sponsorship of my studies.

My current and future success in my opinion wouldn’t be possible without someone like my MCR mentor looking over me throughout all my struggles and accomplishments. I’m now on my second year at university and aim to finish with a First Level Degree and would love for her to be at my graduation to see how much of a real impact she has had on my life and that I am forever grateful. I now look to the future and hope to go on after university to have an ever successful Building Surveying career and have an amazing life with none of the hardships I went through as I grew up.”

Which other bodies does MCR work with?

We work with Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde University and CELCIS to help as partners to deliver this mentoring in schools.

What advice would you give to young people in Scotland who may be worried that their circumstances could hold them back in life?

Talent can overcome disadvantage with the right support from a mentor. Everyone has an innate talent and with a level playing field with the right support through school then they can achieve their potential.

What advice would you offer to employers who have the chance to employ one of the young people you work with?

Young people who have had to find their talent to overcome disadvantage are remarkably motivated, committed and resilient and therefore make remarkable employees…

Thanks to Marie for speaking to us and giving us such a fascinating insight into the fantastic work being carried out by the MCR Pathways Project. At s1jobs we believe in young people having access to the right training and education opportunities to build a brighter future both for themselves and for the whole of Scotland. We wish all of the people involved in the project the very best of luck with this important work.

Glasgow University photo by Sarah Charlesworth, used under Wikimedia creative commons licence.