15 Mar 2018
Some of the capital’s largest employers came together at the House of Lords yesterday to discuss how we need to bridge the gap between young people reaching their potential and companies achieving their growth ambitions.
Hosted by Lord Stanley Fink, the event allowed us to introduce our new enhanced employment offer to representatives of business, government, schools and the third sector and hear from young people who were previously involved in the programme.
Access Aspiration is an employability programme designed to provide careers support and guidance for 16 –24 year old young Londoners who are making key decisions about their future careers but struggle to make links with employers.
Working in partnership with over 100 prestigious London employers, such as the Bank of England, EE, Network Rail, and NHS Imperial College Hospitals, the programme has provided a unique menu of opportunities, such as structured work experience and industry insight days, to young Londoners at a critical point in their education. This year, we will also be including an interview preparation and job/apprenticeship recruitment service with major employers to the programme.
Kim Chaplain, Director of Charitable Portfolio, Mayor’s Fund for London, said: “Our role is to provide a helping hand to young people so that they can access the fantastic opportunities that are available in London, however, it is quite challenging for some of those young people to even conceive what those opportunities are, let alone take advantage of them.”
There are approximately 700,000 young Londoners living in poverty with levels of youth unemployment at nearly 11%. Research tells us that young adults who recall four or more encounters with employers while at school are five times less likely to be unemployed.
“We believe good, vocationally led, career guidance in schools is vital to raise aspiration and awareness. It enables young Londoners to make informed decisions about their future prospects, further study and career paths. By 2022, we aim to work with 150 schools in London and work with 135,000 young Londoners. To achieve this, we need support from businesses, to invest both in young people and their future workforce.”
Speaking about his school’s experience of the programme, Sam Dobin, Assistant Principal, Brampton Manor Academy said: “We know that students need a lot more than top grades to move into highly competitive fields of employment, and the support provided by Access Aspiration has been essential in bridging this gap. We are very lucky to work with some amazingly talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have no shortage of potential but often lack the exposure and connections to employers that are essential in developing their confidence to move into the world of work. In recent years our students have had access to a number of high quality work experience placements and employability sessions that have given them a much better idea about what they want to do in the future and an understanding of how to make such ambitions a reality.”
Kusai Rahal received career advice and work experience through the programme. He went on to study International Relations and Politics at Queen Mary’s University, became heavily involved in charitable activities and was a speaker at a House of Commons event in 2016: “I was the antisocial kid who did not have the ability to speak fluently without stuttering. My thoughts were trapped in my head. I will never forget the day I gave a speech in Parliament to young people in front of individuals from the Bank of England, EE and other big companies. I spoke about my experience with Access Aspiration and how it had motivated me to start my own youth-led charity, Young Leaders Driving Change.” He is currently undertaking an internship in Parliament and hopes to support a social and political change in the UK.
Ayanle Ali moved to the UK as a Somali refugee and grew up in single-parent household. He was the first in his family to go to school, take A-levels, and go to university. After trouble accessing the labour market and higher skilled jobs, Ayanle was left feeling that the system did not allow access to opportunities to people like him.
Speaking about his 3-month placement with Network Rail, he said: “It exceeded my expectations. I was actually treated as an equal and included in everything the team did. The level of trust and confidence placed on me is something that surprised me. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn from a highly skilled and experienced team. I always struggled with my confidence and this role really helped me understand and believe that I can compete at this level and that I do belong.” Ayanle is now in full-time employment with Network Rail.
Sophie Pender grew up on a council estate with just her mum. She was the first in her family to go to university and in 2014 she became the first student in the history of her school to achieve straight A*s at A Level. While in school, Sophie made the most of her work experience and gained an interest in law.
“Going to University wasn’t really on the cards for me; Access put me in a good set for that. One of the main problems with coming from a non-selective state school is that academically we may be equal to some of our peers, but sometimes we struggle with the soft skills like communication or even working in an office environment. Those are skills people take for granted. I felt like Access gave us those skills. Doing work experience got me to where I needed to be for the next steps of my journey.”
Sophie is currently a Trainee Solicitor, and hopes to help improve social mobility for future generations of state school students.
Matthew Patten, Chief Executive, Mayor’s Fund for London said: “The Mayor’s Fund helps young Londoners along the pathway into a fulfilling and sustaining job. Access Aspiration currently provides 24 schools with a range of outstanding work placement opportunities and practical school-based and employer-based training, mentoring and support to students aged 16-18 who face significant disadvantage. Our ambition is to use our network and activities to scale these opportunities for students, schools and employers across London so it was fantastic to see everyone come together today in support of this.”