With the overall aim of increasing the employment of residents and supporting businesses to grow, this team agreed its first project would address youth unemployment. Again, a substantial amount of time was first given to businesses to find out if there were any barriers to employing local young people; previously they had no formal role in the programme to tackle the issue despite being an important part of the solution.
As agencies and businesses came together it became obvious that there wasn’t a clear ‘programme’ for young people seeking employment. Rather there were numerous schemes and courses offered by a variety of agencies, each with different criteria and there was no co-ordination. Agency partners themselves were struggling to understand the overall provision within the town.
The conversations with young people who were not in employment, education or training (NEET) were enlightening. Time and again they told us that they were bewildered by the number of differnet agencies who often told them different things; they felt they were treated like a commodity not a person (almost as though they were only there to reach some target) and disturbingly, they felt that the system that was meant to help them contributed to low self-esteem as much as the unemployment did.
It clearly wasn’t working for the individuals so taking the One Ilfracombe approach we looked at redesigning the system around the person, not the agency and out of this arose:
Pathways to Work
This project recognises there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to getting people into work. There are a number of pathways depending on their current circumstances, ranging from further training to extended work experience, traineeships, spprenticeships and work trials. The team works with the individual young person to decide which would be the best option at that particular time and then a business representative who sits on the team uses her local knowledge to visit appropriate local businesses to see if they would be willing to help. Businesses have been willing to support even those who would have found it a real challenge to be employed in the past. One young man who was given an opportunity for extended paid work experience and has since gone on to gain summer employment was featured in our local newspaper. He said, “It’s the first time I’ve been in the paper for the right reasons!”
We spoke to over 60 local businesses to find out what the barriers are to employing young local people. Apart from some wanting some advice about practical matters such as risk assessments (for which we have produced an Employers Guide), they also said they felt that youngsters just leaving school didn’t always know how to communicate with adults in the business world – an ability vital to all jobs. The following project was therefore concieved:
Education to Employment
In partnership with the local Academy a programme of opportunties that bring students and businesses together has begun. As well as arranging site visits, we have organised two You’re Hired! Events at the school. The latest saw over 170 students take part in workshops led by 18 local employers on such topics as writing a CV, first impressions and the impact of social media on future careers. Feedback from the students and teachers has been excellent and the businesses feel they are contributing to making our local young people more work-ready.
Out of the Blue Cadets
This project is led by our emergency services partners and is aimed at raising the aspirations of some of our younger residents by providing them with positive role models and a stepping stone to local youth group activities. The police, fire service, RNLI and ambulance service are all taking part in the training, the students have signed up … the first cadet course begins in October.