Posted by:6 March, 2012
Reigate & Banstead BC is currently the only local authority in Surrey with its own youth-dedicated employment scheme. The council’s leader, Cllr Joan Spiers, pictured, explains how their recession-busting youth employment scheme is giving young people a much needed foot on the work ladder and is encouraging local businesses to do the same.
In less than a year, 43 young people have benefitted from our Young Workers Scheme, which creates an opportunity for local 18-24 year olds, out of work for six months or more, by equipping them with the skills, confidence and experience needed for the jobs market. Recruits are from a variety of backgrounds including graduates and the long term unemployed.
With one of the highest levels of young people in Surrey who are not in employment, education or training (NEET), Reigate & Banstead set up the scheme to replace the Future Jobs Fund - a central government employment initiative, which ended in March 2011. Supporting the regeneration of some of our communities is part of our Corporate Plan 2011-15. We have fully funded the scheme from our own existing budgets and it is now set to continue as a rolling opportunity.
The scheme offers a paid six month contract to work in a variety of council departments including Human Resources, Housing, Environmental Health, Grounds Maintenance, Cemeteries, Refuse & Recycling, Streetscene, Parking, Building & Development, Customer Services, ICT, Legal, Policy & Regeneration and Property Services.
Recent scheme successes include young people:
- starting a two year apprenticeship with the council;
- successfully applying for permanent and fixed-terms jobs with the council;
- being offered a job opportunity with a local business through help from the council;
- returning to university.
In addition to practical work experience, we organise help for our young workers to develop their job hunting skills through interview techniques, CV building, writing application forms, life skills such as financial planning, mentoring, one to one coaching and career development sessions. We have also given them training in a range of areas including customer care, telephone techniques, business writing, IT and job shadowing.
The scheme also benefits Reigate & Banstead in practical ways. For example, the young workers who were placed in our Parks and Countryside team helped us to win a national award through their hard work and dedication.
Internally the council is encouraging its own workforce to take responsibility for the borough’s economic and social regeneration by having a young worker join different departments. By promoting the benefits of having young workers in the organisation, our managers and teams have really bought into the scheme.
With youth unemployment being a big topic in the UK, we are keen for other large employers and local businesses to experience the benefits of employing a young person and join us with similar schemes and opportunities. Two council-organised events for businesses and other employers in our borough focusing on how we can work together to help young people into work have reaped rewards with two major employers adopting similar schemes and we hope more will follow.
Our Young Workers Scheme has recently been shortlisted for a Gatwick Diamond Business Award in the Corporate Responsibility category.
The scheme has proven to be a life changing opportunity for our young workers. Their feedback has been hugely positive; it has helped to develop their skills, confidence and career goals, with one even saying that it was the best experience of his life.
Former young worker, Becky Saint, aged 22, now works in our Housing and Pollution department as a Team Administrator: “I was mainly doing cleaning work before I came to the council, but ended up losing my job and it wasn’t easy looking for employment again. Since being here, I’ve become more confident. I’ve now got a good CV and lots of experience. I’m proud to work here and I look forward to coming in each day.”
Jake Hanmar, aged 22, was taken on as an apprentice in the council’s vehicle workshop just a few weeks after starting the scheme. He has a background in motor sports and a motor industry qualification: “My confidence has grown as I’m trusted to do vehicle inspections independently. I’ve learned so much, especially about vehicle hydraulics and electrics. I was over the moon when I was offered a two year apprenticeship. I’m now doing a Level 3 Vehicle Maintenance and Repair for Heavy Vehicles and am on block release from college. I’m now more financially secure. I’m really thankful I ended up getting this role.”
We believe that investing in helping young people to succeed is crucial and even more so during the current economic climate.
Cllr Joan Spiers (Con), leader, Reigate & Banstead BC
To find out more about the Young Workers Scheme and to read some of the recruit’s experiences, visit www.reigate-banstead.gov.uk.
Reigate & Banstead BC’s HR Team are happy to speak with anyone interested in setting up their own scheme. Contact 01737 276090 for more information.
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