Business owners and managers are being sought to join a mentoring scheme to support young people with employability and enterprise skills.
Sadie Sharp, founder of youth development firm The Platform Project based in Dorcan, Swindon, has launched the scheme at a time when job prospects for young people are shrinking.
The social enterprise seeks to support those who have not thrived and are, for whatever reason, not in or are at risk of not being in employment, education or training. The need is greater now than ever with Covid-19 rapidly increasing the rates of youth unemployment.
Sadie said: “We are able to keep supporting young people in Swindon during lockdown, albeit in smaller groups, because the needs of those we support are so significant.
"We have more and more young people in the town who need help to transition to the next phase of their lives - they may not have done well at school, they may have had family issues which impacted on their development, or they may have personal challenges which makes them less able to move into work and thrive in life.”
The company runs a number of small-scale youth-led businesses, including the youth magazine #iDare, a digital media marketing agency and a printed goods business, where the young adults do everything normal in business including managing social media, liaising with customers, making decisions, and managing project finances.
“We know from the young people we have already worked with, that with a little bit of supported hands-on experience in a ‘real’ training workplace can act as a rapid transition into the world of work and change their lives with life options that never existed for them before.
"They come in to ‘work’ in our youth-led businesses, and they leave us with such a significantly increased skillset and confidence level that almost all of them go on to get jobs or even start their own freelance business activities.”
The young people, aged between 16 and 21, will be paired with a mentor who will support them and guide them– whether that be to try and secure work in their chosen field, secure more CV building opportunities like work experience, or even to start their own business and perhaps earn money from their hobbies and interests.
Sadie said: “Many young people come here feeling quite aimless - they often have no career path in mind and have no idea how to find their feet in the world, and trying to change that on your own is a daunting task at the best of times, let alone in times of a national pandemic when the competition for any opportunity has increased tenfold.
"Pairing up with an established professional who has overcome challenges and developed their own career or business can transform their confidence and can also help them to build up their own network of contacts so that they can transition into their working lives.”
Sadie and her team are looking for a range of volunteer mentors who have experience across all sectors and roles, including those who may have:
- Built and run their own business, possibly from a challenging background.
- Had a successful career and overcome challenges to achieve their goals.
- Followed a career path to a high level of achievement and wants to support a young person find their feet in the world of work.
- Retired or semi-retired from a successful career, profession or trade who wants to support someone at the beginning of their working life.
- Someone who took a hobby or a passion and turned it into a side-line business – as many young people struggle to get full-time work now.
The mentor will be working with the young person for a couple of hours each week one to one. Each pairing is for six months and includes regular supervision to ensure the mentors are supported.