Make a Connexion – and make a differenceBy Sally Bryant
September 13, 2011
Bosses who could give struggling young people a taste of the workplace are being urged to step forward.
Connexions Berkshire is running a programme, on behalf of Reading Borough Council, for vulnerable teenagers who are having difficulty finding work.
And the organisation is looking for employers who could give them a helping hand by offering work experience placements.
Just under four per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds in Reading are claiming Job Seekers Allowance, which is higher than any other age group.
The young people taking part in the Connexions scheme are from backgrounds which could make finding a job even more challenging. They are facing difficult barriers – some have been young offenders, others have been in care.
Dianne Aston, co-ordinator for the Volunteer Mentoring Project, said: “The programme is aimed at the young unemployed people in Reading aged from 16 to 18 because there is a considerable number of them. They are really struggling to get jobs so the idea was to have this mentoring programme where we recruit members who would work with them individually to help them get a job.”
The scheme has been running since April and has already had some success stories, with seven of the clients starting college this week and another two just starting jobs.
There is no shortage of mentors – although more from ethnic minority backgrounds would be welcomed – and 22 have already completed their training.
There are plenty of young people who need mentoring as well. But more opportunities are needed for them to experience what working is like and a boost in funding is going to be needed for the project to keep up its good work.
Ms Aston said: “Many of the young people have no work experience and this gives them an insight into work, as well as giving them something to put on their CV. Many of the young people on the project have no or few qualifications.
"We currently have work experience placements available at Reading University, catering and grounds work and also within Reading Borough Council cultural and leisure departments.
"I am still looking to expand the number of work experience placements, so if you feel you could offer work experience to a young person, please contact me.”
The co-ordinator is also keen to hear from organisations willing to sponsor the programme next year, as its council funding will run out in March.
Email Ms Aston at email@example.com.