Opportunities for minority ethnic people

£470,000 to fund 50 leadership placements.

A new development programme will aim to remove barriers that can be faced by minority ethnic people moving into leadership positions in society.

Up to 50 people will benefit from a nine-month professional and personal development programme backed by mentoring, and living wage placements across the public, third and private sectors.

The programme will focus on young people, and will be delivered by the John Smith Centre, backed up by £470,000 of Scottish Government funding. The programme will focus on developing the professional and personal skills of participants, including negotiating and communication.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to achieving equality for all minority ethnic people and part of that means taking tangible steps to remove barriers and improve opportunities across society.

“Improving representation across all walks of life is key to achieving this aim and I am pleased that the John Smith Centre will deliver this important programme. The programme will provide up to 50 people with a fantastic opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed.

“The programme will be developed and delivered in consultation with relevant organisations and people to ensure that we are learning from lived experience.

“I want to see talented participants from all walks of life taking part, including those who haven’t taken traditional academic routes to success. I hope the result will be an increase in numbers of minority ethnic people in leadership roles that reflect the society we live in.”

Director of the John Smith Centre Kezia Dugdale said:

“The John Smith Centre exists to break down the barriers disadvantaged groups face accessing public life. We listened carefully to the call for action emanating from the Black Lives Matter movement and reflected hard on what we could do that would make a meaningful difference.

“We have a strong track record in supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds develop the confidence, the networks and the experience they need to break through the challenges they face. We are therefore extremely proud to now be collaborating with the Scottish Government to increase the scale of this work with a particular focus on minority ethnic young people.

“At every stage of this programme we’ll listen to, learn from and involve people with lived experience of the barriers that minority ethnic communities face, and combine it with our experience of what makes a real difference and delivers long term change.”


Features of the Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Academy are expected to include:

  • A residential development weekend focused on developing employability skills such presentation, negotiating and communication skills and networking/social events to build early cohesion in the group in order to establish a peer support network.
  • Internship with an MSP or Non-Government Organisation over the course of the nine month placement.
  • Employability events at the University of Glasgow with high level politicians and public service practitioners.
  • Programme management by experienced providers of high-quality development opportunities. Developed by the John Smith Centre with extensive involvement of the minority ethnic community in all aspects of the programme.


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