Baillie Gifford has been a supporter of educational programmes at RZSS for many years. Their support of our Zoo and Environmental Skills Training (ZEST) and the Zest Certificate for Work Readiness (ZEST CWR) has allowed RZSS to work with many children and young people to provide SQA approved work placements and skills training that will set them on a path to further education, training or employment.
Founded in 1909, investment management group Baillie Gifford is a long-standing supporter of the Edinburgh community and sponsors a wide range of charitable projects across Scotland. Thanks to their sponsorship of our ZEST programme since 2009, RZSS has been able to offer a number of work placements for children aged 15-17 across various different departments within the Society including education, visitor services, development and even working directly with the animals. Through such placements we are able to provide children with a range of valuable skills and experience to improve their employability and to improve their awareness of the breadth of opportunities available within a charity such as RZSS.
Alongside this, Baillie Gifford has also supported the provision of the ZEST Certificate for Work Readiness (CWR) since 2014, a qualification aimed at young people aged 18-24 who are not in education, employment or training. Thanks to their funding, 12 students have successfully completed the required 8-week work placement and received their qualifications, with four of these students having subsequently been offered positions and apprenticeships within RZSS.
Dr Marianne Freeman, Senior Tertiary Education Officer at RZSS, says: “The Baillie Gifford funding is crucial to the success of the course, allowing young people the opportunity to gain valuable experience and life skills where they would not have been able to otherwise. The course sees shy, disengaged and demotivated students turn into confident, inspired and focused individuals giving them a head start to carving out their own career path.”
Samantha Pattman, from the Sponsorship Committee at Baillie Gifford, says: “Baillie Gifford is proud to play an active role in supporting the Scottish community through our charitable partnerships. We are pleased that our sponsorship of the ZEST education programmes at RZSS has allowed children and young people to gain access to valuable skills and experiences which will improve their prospects for the future.”