In their own words - Dave and Sarah tell us about the Youth Strategy Workshops
Itís about all pulling together to connect the potentially unco-ordinated....
Cornwall has something of a reputation for dealing imaginatively with youth unemployment rather than just handing out benefits or looking the other way.
Building a strategy for youth employment in the county. Getting the recipe right. Dave Meneer reports..
The recipe for success? Take 300 movers and shakers from the public and private sector and from charities and social enterprises and education and and and. Mix them all together in Truro and Helston over two action packed days of “speed dating” to share knowledge and get them to buzz together about everything they’re up to to get young people into work and keep them there.
That’s the ingredients, that and various dollops of funding from government and Europe to make it all work together. Then stir it all together and let all the good ideas rise to the surface; and there are plenty of them – Cornwall has something of a reputation for dealing imaginatively with youth unemployment rather than just handing out benefits or looking the other way.
It's a heady brew.....
From the trainee chefs at Fifteen Cornwall to the graduates of Unlocking Cornish Potential, and from a new programme working with 14 to 19 year old young mums to improve their parenting skills to the Phoenix Works project run by the Fire Brigade to get the youngest unemployed diving into teamwork and communication skills.
From the skateboarding carpenters of RIO’s Extravert programme to apprenticeships up and down the county working for big companies and one band bands alike. It is all going on day after day.
It’s a heady brew and it works. There were over 100 programmes and initiatives and projects represented. The trick? Well it’s back to that strategy and that plan and the talented “chefs” at Cornwall Works whose job it is to bring all those tasty ingredients together so that the finished dish really is something special. It is no easy task and preparing this strategy – this action plan - will take all of their skill and expertise and experience to blend those ingredients; using just enough of this and just enough of that to make it all work.
The vibrant enthusiasm in those two rooms is one thing, harnessing it and controlling it and directing it is another. It’s about all pulling together to connect the potentially unco-ordinated, to watch out for the costly duplication. To join stuff up whilst at the same time looking out for those gaps in provision which a young person can fall through.
And as well as looking after the young and their aspirations it is about looking the other way at the potential employers too – they’re the other side of the equation. Make it easy for them to employ and they have shown that they will…complicate their lives with bureaucracy and they’ll simply walk away; they have work to do after all. And with a little luck so will the youth of Cornwall.
Sarah Yeoman reports on the Youth Employment Strategy Workshops
The Cornwall Works 'Youth Employment Strategy' saw two days of collaborative support and discussion from some innovative minds. Organisations who are delivering youth support programmes all gathered to share their ideas and schemes to support and aid young people’s future into employment; showcasing the possible progression routes that are available.
Organisations included Jobcentre Plus, Real Ideas Organisation, Pentreath, Cornwall Works for Families, Cornwall Council, National Apprenticeship Service, Careers South West, Phoenix Works and The Learning Partnership, to name a few.
On both days the venues were busy and bustling, full of people from organisations and projects that work with young people, as well as representatives from job centres and some of the 18-24 year olds who are currently completing work experience and apprenticeships through Jobcentre Plus and the participating schemes.
A ‘speed dating’ format took place where we could move round to different tables and hear from the organisations about their projects and aims. Each organisation had key ideas that offered variations of apprenticeships, work experience, volunteering, training and support into building skills for employment. A main factor of the whole event was awareness. Organisations needing to be aware of the support that young people need to move towards employment, and young people being aware of the support that is available to them. Over the two days a consistent range of issues arose regarding how to boost support for youth employment opportunities. The conditions surrounding different benefits varied, although the aims and plans were shared.
As well as the organisations themselves, we also heard from participants of some of the schemes, who told us about their first hand experiences.
Ben Milby had trouble finding work after graduating from university; and through support from Jobcentre Plus he was referred to Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Padstow. Although not being interested in the chef side of things, he was interested in human resources and became a human resources assistant part time, and then into full time. He said the opportunity has helped with “building confidence and prove to myself that I can do what I aim to”.
Sean, who completed the three-week Phoenix Works course, was on Jobseekers allowance until he took part in the project. He said the course “sets you up for meeting new people and has helped me with public speaking and trusting others”. A week after finishing the course Sean was employed by Wilkinsons with the support of the fire station, he said they “helped me get a job and move somewhere in my life”.
Stephen was referred by Jobcentre Plus to completing work experience in his passion of creative gardening. His work experience, based in St. Keverne, is an independent project that builds engaging garden environments for people from different backgrounds. He said he has “re-discovered the outdoors” and hopes to develop the project into a social enterprise.
The future for support with youth employment revolves around awareness. The projects that these organisations are running are making such a difference to people’s work ethos, and the more young people who are aware of the support the more they can help, no matter what their situation. Whether it is skills, training, experience, CV and interview building or even motivation building, all levels and styles of support are available. The collaboration of organisations willing to share and promote their ideas was truly impressive, and promising to know that my age group has a rapport of support just as the 50+ projects do.