FOLLOWING the success of its much-lauded Mentoring Programme, the Scottish Wholesale Association is inviting further applications for 2015.

Launched two years ago out to improve skills and nurture emerging talent within the Scottish wholesale industry, the groundbreaking programme is moving into a new phase and the SWA would like to hear from members who have identified an ambitious senior manager or other individual within their business who would benefit from developing their skills.

Prospective mentees will most likely be working in the key areas of buying, sales and management.

Crucially for employers, the Mentoring Programme is structured around the needs of the business and happens within the workplace. It has been carefully designed to allow individuals to realise their own capabilities and potential, with mentees carefully matched with an appropriate mentor.

Sandie Holmes, principal consultant at 121 HR Solutions, the SWA's training partner which is facilitating the programme, explained: "We have a number of mentees who have now completed the programme during which time they have met with their mentors regularly to help them identify the correct steps to fulfil their potential, realise their aspirations and further their career.

"The programme has been exceptionally well received and, without exception, each of our mentees has benefited considerably from participating - namely in terms of boosting their confidence and considering different approaches to challenges."

One mentee who is delighted to have had the opportunity to get involved in the programme is Stewart Ferguson, trading manager at Dundee-based Spar wholesaler, CJ Lang. "From my initial meeting with my mentor I knew that I would benefit from their vast knowledge and experience of working in the industry," he said.

"So far, the benefits from our discussions have been that I am able to consider different approaches to challenges - and able to look at them from a different viewpoint outwith company culture."

SWA executive director Kate Salmon, stressing that the trade association has a responsibility to invest in the people who will be leaders of the future, said: "We need the right people with the right attitude and the right skills to create a truly world-class industry in order to remain ahead of the game - we want to be part of the process that not only identifies these future leaders but, crucially, retains that talent within our industry."

For wholesalers, Salmon added, the return on investment will be evident as they see their managers develop and grow. "The feedback we've received so far confirms that our Mentoring Programme has been a much-needed and well-received initiative - we are keen to keep up the momentum and welcome new mentees into the programme."

Employees, endorsed by their manager, are invited to apply to be considered for the programme with acceptance based on evidence of relevant experience and achievements with the industry. The SWA is also asking applicants to provide a supporting statement as to why they believe they meet the criteria of "emerging talent".

On completion of their mentoring, candidates will have the opportunity of starting to work towards a professional qualification via the SWA's Training Programme. Sandie Holmes continued: "Places for mentees are very much at a premium which is why the application process is so thorough."

Principals and decision-makers wishing to discuss the Mentoring Programme are urged to contact Sandie Holmes for an initial chat on 0792 121 3892 or