Today, during World Youth Skills Day, we’re shining the spotlight on Malcolm McDonald, Helm’s Garage Instructor.

What’s your job at Helm? Tell me about what you do on a day-to-day basis?

I work in the garage at Helm giving young people the experience of working as a mechanic and building their skills.  At the garage, we give them the opportunity to do three qualifications.  We start with the basics about what the different tools do then we work up to them doing repairs on the cars which is part of one of the qualifications.

Some of the guys who come to the garage, come in not knowing what they want to do in life, they just know that they don’t want to sit behind a desk doing paperwork.

I’m really pleased to say that some of the young people who have come into the garage have gone on to do absolutely brilliant things – they’ve either gone on to apprenticeships at a garage or to college to study mechanics which has been great to see.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Helm?

For me, the best part of the job is seeing young people who didn’t know what they wanted to do, have a taster of working in the garage then go on to do qualifications and end up getting a job.

This interview is going live on World Youth Skills day – what skills do young people take away from their sessions with you?

The simplest thing and the first thing that I teach them is lefty loosey, righty tighty!  It saves them and me a lot of time!

In all seriousness though, I found that what the young people take away from their time at Helm depends on how much they’re willing to put into it. They can learn anything from changing a bulb through to replacing a clutch through to rebuilding an engine. We can offer them a range of opportunities in the garage.

We’ll be moving premises soon to a larger space and starting to offer MOTs to people in Dundee which the young people will be able to do dummy runs (although not driving the vehicles themselves), which will be another great skill for them to take away.

Why do you think Helm is so important to the young people we support?

There are so many young people out there who don’t know what they want to do as a career.  They come to Helm because we have a good reputation about getting young people into jobs or into college.  However, it’s impossible to get someone a job, if they don’t know what they want to do.

When young people come to Helm, they get to visit the garage or other things we offer like the practical unit and the beauty salon.  They get to try a few days to see if it’s for them. It’s perfect for the young people while they try and work out what they want to do in the future. I think Helm helps them find their path and hopefully they go on to get a job at the end of it.  

Honestly, I just wish there had been somewhere like Helm when I was younger!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today Malcolm – it’s great to talk to you on World Youth Skills day to understand more about the skills young people can gain by working alongside you in Helm’s garage.