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Developing Young People is Central to WeeCOOK Kitchen

Providing opportunities for young people is an investment in the future of the business according to Angus entrepreneur Hayley Wilkes.

The owner-chef WeeCOOK Kitchen in Barry, has strived to offer youngsters work experience, paid employment and a place to learn and develop.

Two years ago her popular restaurant and pie business received an Investors in Young People accreditation.

Hayley said this not only speaks to the values of her business but is also consistent with her expansion plans.

She said: “It’s really important to me to add value to the local economy, put something back into the community and to take the people who want to work, have the right attitude and are keen to learn.

“When you give young people responsibility, they soon take ownership.

“We welcome people of different ages and backgrounds. We have a very diverse team based on people’s abilities and their characters.

“It’s their business as much as my business. The more the business succeeds, the more they grow.”

Since starting The WeeCOOK Kitchen a decade ago, Hayley has seen the appetite for her Angus-based restaurant and pie business increase.

She credits part of that success to support she has received by the Skills for Growth programme operated by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in partnership with consultants Remarkable.

It offers up to two days of business consultancy, helping employers understand their skills needs. It creates a business plan with guidance towards the right support.

The plan of action for WeeCOOK was to maximise the potential from the pies side of the business.

“I had to decide which direction to take the business and be more organised in the planning,” Hayley recalled.

“I knew what I wanted and needed to do, but Skills for Growth helped me develop and implement the necessary plans.

“We have recruited three apprentices, brought on and trained more staff, allowing me to focus on the strategic side of things.”

Hayley was supported by SDS Skills for Growth advisor Sam Greer and Ewan Hunter from Remarkable.

Sam said Hayley’s openness for new ideas and advice was key to the success of the Skills for Growth support.

She said: “Hayley was lovely to work with – she was very open to the critical conversations.  She was very humble and willing to make changes.

“The business was at a little bit of a crossroads. Euan and I were able to share our experiences but also give Hayley the confidence in her own leadership.”

Hayley was recognised with two honours at the Business Women Scotland Awards last year.

She said the SDS programme meant she had a network of people to turn to for professional advice and support.

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