It’s been a busy few months, with lots of events happening and many opportunities to share mine & the Foundation’s views on what we can do to support young people, especially those facing barriers, to engage with employment, now and into their future.

Youth Unemployment Committee, House of Lords, 23 March 2021

I was honored to be invited to give evidence at the House of Lords Youth Unemployment Committee in March. I was able to give my views on work experience and the benefits it can have in introducing young people into the workplace as well as helping them to build their CVs. While this is great, we must also do more to increase sustainable employment opportunities.

Apprenticeships are of course an excellent way to do that and we have seen an increase in apprenticeships take up, which is good news. I highlighted that as apprenticeships become a more popular option for young people, we need to maintain their quality so that both employers of all sizes and apprentices of all abilities have a beneficial experience.

I had the chance to answer a question about equipping young people for the skills needed in the future. It was a great one and I believe that we need to look at developing skills that will allow young people to transfer between (longer) careers. The obvious ways to start doing this is to continue to engage employers in the development of apprenticeships standards such as Business Administration. Also engaging with schools and colleges is a great way to help young people identify their interests and strengths to career pathways and start mapping the skills they will need to navigate fulfilling employment throughout their working lives.

Those employability skills such as resilience, communication and digital skills are much needed. Employers need to make an effort to engage with young people to become more approachable and provide some feedback on key interactions such as interviews. They must be part of the conversation about the outcomes of apprenticeships and demonstrate to young people, their parents and career advisers that they can lead to great success.

Other contributors included:

  • Mark Cameron, CEO Designate, The 5% Club
  • Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy, British Chambers of Commerce

Panel debate ‘The Inclusion Revolution’ at the Annual Apprenticeship Conference 2021, chaired by our CEO Kirstie Donnelly.

In this panel we explored why diversity and inclusion are critical for the future success of UK businesses. I highlighted that as apprenticeships become more popular, we need to stay focused on making sure that everybody has the same opportunities to be informed about apprenticeships and how to make the most of the experience, no matter their background.

There is still a lot of work to do, beyond the stigma of apprenticeships which we’re working so hard to beat. What happens once a young person enters the workplace? How do we create a safe space where everyone feels welcome and every voice is heard and valued? How do we nurture apprentices so they can progress to higher roles, mentor new joiners and develop a sense of belonging?

I loved hearing the views of the other panelists:

  • Deborah Frances-White, The Guilty Feminist
  • Lucy Hunte, National Programme Manager – Apprenticeships, Health Education England
  • Damien McKnight, Dovecote Park
  • Lia Nici MP, Chair of Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network
  • Jeff Greenidge, Director for Diversity, AoC and ETF.

Bringing together experts from across the sector highlighted the fact we all have a role to play in increasing Diversity & Inclusion.

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