A BUSINESSMAN in Glasgow has been rewarded for putting young people at the heart of an internet cafe chain.
iCafe owner Umer Ashraf Malik has been named Skills Development Scotland's Youth Employer of the Month.
He runs three cafes in the city, in Sauchiehall Street, Woodlands Road and Great Western Road, all supporting young people into work.
Umer currently has three young staff signed up for the Hospitality Modern Apprenticeships.
One of his former apprentices, Jenna Bellshaw, 20, from Glasgow, has just been promoted to supervisor and 16 young people are currently employed in his cafes.
He told the Evening Times: "Young people are an important part of our business strategy - they bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm and we learn from them as they make up a big chunk of our clientele."
Several iCafe employees have completed Modern Apprenticeships within the company which is providing them with further training opportunities in customer service, leadership and hospitality management.
Umer, 29, said: "It is rewarding to see this young person go through our in-house training programme and progress to the next level.
"Our former apprentice who has been promoted to supervisor is a great role model to the other young people in the company and I plan to offer her further training so she can take on management roles."
SDS employer engagement adviser Sharita Guy said: "iCafe is a fantastic example of a business that recognises the importance of giving young people a chance.
"Not only is Umer offering them work opportunities, he is also a terrific ambassador for youth employment and has attended numerous events on behalf of SDS to highlight the benefits of recruiting and supporting young people."
SDS chairman John McClelland CBE, said he was impressed by Umer's commitment to young people.
He added: "I would like to congratulate iCafe for being recognised with this award which is testament to the hard work and commitment they make to young people."
iCafe is a multi-award winning coffee house and internet cafe chain.