A Lucky Break
When I left school I was very fortunate in that one of my teachers (Mr Pope – technical drawing and graphical communication) introduced me to my first employer. I somehow managed to fumble my way through an interview and into the world of work as a trainee draughtsman. I learned a lot in this first job working among some supportive colleagues, both in the head office where I was based, and out on our many constructions sites too. All good things come to an end, and when I left this job, I had accumulated skills and experience beyond those I’d gained at school, and so found further employment. I was given a valuable hand from school into the world of work – many are not so fortunate.
In The Dark
Not long after starting my own business I did some voluntary work at a local school, helping kids with interview and CV preparation.My overriding memory of these experiences was how utterly unprepared nearly all the kids were. Prior to meeting me and other volunteers, pupils had apparently been doing some work on preparing a CV and getting ready for interviews. As the sessions unfolded I saw almost no evidence of this work as the volunteers and pupils clunked along together as best we could. I spoke with school staff after these sessions and the whole thing, right through to the involvement of us volunteers too, felt very much a last minute idea, ‘Oh look, some of our pupils are about to leave….should we be doing something…?’ I walked away from this experience feeling underwhelmed.
A New Direction – Taking Part
Fast forward to 2014, and I became aware of Learning to Work, a programme led by the CIPD to promote the role of employers in reducing youth unemployment.
The overall aim of the programme is to promote the business case for investing in the future workforce. We encourage HR professionals to offer a wide range of access routes into their organisations and ensure their recruitment and management practices are youth-friendly. We also promote direct contact with young people via two youth volunteering programmes, Steps Ahead Mentoring and Inspiring the Future.
Having been invited to a couple of events designed to showcase and promote this interesting work, it became clear to me that young people involved in the programme, including CIPD student members, are getting a lot from their participation. Through talking with these younger people, it also became clear to me that small businesses like mine also have a useful role to play. Big businesses are often the ones who offer support on programmes like this, and while they are surely useful, and have the added benefit of big, familiar names to help with the PR side of the scheme – they are not the only gig in town. When I explain my work to people at these events a lot of them say they would benefit from having access to smaller businesses like mine. With this in mind I joined Inspiring the Future (you can too if you like) and have supported the programme through attending and participating at events at local schools. The basic premise is not so different from that which I experienced when I first set up in business, but the whole Learning to Work programme benefits from a much more intentional approach. I think this programme is one of the most important activities currently being undertaken by the CIPD and I have just extended my involvement by signing up to offer student workplace placements in my business. Nothing grand, just working with me for a day or two – as a way of helping people explore what goes on in a small business like mine.
London’s Skilled Future – and your part in it
As part of this future focussed work, on March 16th, CIPD London are running a conference called London’s Skilled Future. The conference will tackle subjects like youth unemployment, low pay, the London economy, and much more besides. The CIPD has structured ticket pricing so as to appeal particularly to student members, and I encourage the CIPD student membership based in London to check the event out. If you are a current CIPD student member and would like to attend, but do not have the budget, then I may be able to help. I have purchased two student tickets to the event which I would like to give away. If you would like one, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog, and I will draw two names from the hat on Friday 27th February. Thereafter I will contact the two winners so you can register, and make arrangements with the CIPD about which sessions you would like to attend. If you win one of these two tickets, I hope you have an excellent day at the conference. And if you are reading this and know someone who might benefit from this offer, please let them know – it is open to all current student CIPD members.