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Some people live for work, others work to live. For those lucky enough to be in a job they enjoy, work can be rewarding, satisfying and often part of a varied career. For others, work is just a job – a way to make money and little more.
For others still, a job is even more important than that; it offers an alternative path to a life of serious violence. Employment can quite simply be a lifeline.
At Catch22, we run a range of services that support young people who are at risk of falling victim to exploitation or gang activity. And some of the people we work with are already trapped in a viscous cycle of violent crime. Often there are many factors at play; a troubled family life, poor educational attainment, or any manner of adverse childhood experiences. It’s important to try and address those individual needs as early as possible (of course prevention is always better than cure) and divert these young people away from a path that may result in serious violence.
Securing a sustainable job plays a major part in that – and businesses can play a vital role in giving young people that first opportunity. More often that not, the rewards on both sides are high.
We’ve recently teamed up with The Prince’s Trust and Apprentice Nation to deliver major contract to help up to 1,500 young people who at risk of serious violence, move closer to work. The programme, funded by the Home Office, is heavily focused on individualised support and the provision of high-quality wraparound support. We know from a recent Movement to Work survey that 68% of participants who receive this kind of help sustain their placements and move into work, compared to 32% who don’t.
As part of the Creating Opportunities programme, we’ll be providing participants with one-to-one support from a dedicated Careers Coach, a personalised support package (tailored workshops to help with employability skills, job search skills, work experience) as well help addressing barriers including health and wellbeing, independent living, housing, and developing life skills. There will be rewards through Apprentice Nation’s online platform and financial support with a personalised budget to help participants reach their career goals. And all participants will get priority access to the existing programmes that Catch22 and The Prince’s Trust run – including employability support, mentoring and entrepreneurship.
Crucially too, we provide a further 6 months of support once the participant has secured a new job or apprenticeship. We’ve found from experience of running other employability programmes that continuing to provide support in those initial months has a real bearing on how the employee settles in and means that the transition between job seeking and being in a job is as smooth as possible.
The success of the programme will rely on us working with businesses of all sizes who are looking to recruit young people, and are open to considering those who may be facing challenges in the lives and perhaps don’t have the experience or educational attainment that
Unfortunately, recruitment processes often lend themselves to shortlisting candidates who look best on paper – who have a polished CV, decent qualifications and a strong cover letter. Most application processes don’t give room (certainly not early on), for candidates to demonstrate their enthusiasm, loyalty and desire to do well, which in many cases might be more valuable to an employer than how many GCSEs they have. In fact, we find that many of the young people we work with who don’t necessarily have the best qualifications on paper, with the right support become first rate employees.
And very often we find that some of the best roles for young people to gain practical experience and build skills are in small and medium sizes companies, rather than larger organisations. Employees benefit from being a key player from the start and are given more responsibility more quickly than if they were in a bigger company. The benefits to the organisations themselves can also be sizeable, with the opportunity to nurture talent and to develop roles to meet business need.
Appointing someone to a role and seeing them flourish is clearly good for business. It is also hugely satisfying as an employer. That satisfaction is even greater when the person is someone who, without a job and without the support of an employability programme and a committed employer, could have easily fallen into a life of crime and violence. For these young people, a job is so much more than just a job; it can be a real life-changer.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Creating Opportunities programme and how your business can get involved, you can read more here and get in touch!