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Improving employability skills for young people

Youth unemployment is still rife in the UK, with people aged between 16 – 24 four times more likely to be unemployed than those over the age of 25.

Youth unemployment is still rife in the UK, with people aged between 16 – 24 four times more likely to be unemployed than those over the age of 25. Alongside this, research shows a significant link between young people’s experience of the world of work whilst at school and the chances of them becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) as young adults. Young adults who recalled four or more employer contacts’ during their youth are five times less likely to be NEET than those who had no involvement.

With over 50,000 employees based in the UK, Capita’s people have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with young people on the range of careers available, how to get into the world of work and what skills you need to succeed. We partner with various organisations volunteering in local schools and colleges to improve the employability skills of young people.

A spotlight on working in contact centres

A team of 30 volunteers in our Customer Management businesses supported 17 aspiring young people to understand what it is like to work in a contact centre and what skills they need to be ready for the world of work.

Partnering with The Prince’s Trust, various teams in Customer Management joined forces to hold a career’s insight day and four-week work experience programme for young people aged 18-25.

The Prince’s Trust, is a national charity, that believes every young person should have the chance to embrace exciting opportunities. So, they work with 11-30 year-olds who are unemployed or struggling at school to transform their lives.

Our insight day saw 37 young people come to our offices in Leeds to hear from various people about what it was like to work in Customer Management and the skills and behaviours required to build a career within Capita. Twenty of these students were then invited to take part in a three-week work experience programme.

To mark the end of the programme and to practice some of their newly acquired skills everyone presented on what they had learnt and their hopes for future careers. A commitment we made to all those attending was that they would be interviewed with those that ‘passed’ being considered for suitable roles within the business. Our interviewers were so impressed with the calibre that we are now looking at opportunities for the successful candidates within the business.

“It is great to see this programme up and running, with so many committed young people in attendance as well as some superb delivery from our colleagues – which has really helped to engage the young people. We are excited to see the potential for this and other related programmes and are grateful of the support from The Prince’s Trust. Improving the employability of young people in the communities in which we operate is important for our sustainability as a business.” Ricky Alfred, head of corporate responsibility, Customer Management.

Focussing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in North Tyneside

There is a long-standing STEM skills shortage in the UK – a trend reflected in recent estimates from the Royal Academy of Engineering that the minimum number of STEM graduates needed to keep the industry fully resourced now stands at approximately 100,000 a year. This is a far cry from the current 90,000 graduates coming out of university with a STEM degree, of which up to a quarter going on to choose non STEM careers[1].

Our team within the North Tyneside Partnership are perfectly placed to address the STEM skills shortage and we are definitely doing our part to encourage young people into STEM careers. Our 15-year contract with North Tyneside Council sees us providing a package of technical services to the council including property, facilities management, planning and building control, highways and engineering, and public protection services. Most of our 260 people working in the partnership are from a STEM background.

We’ve partnered with the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), the Institute for Civil Engineers (ICE) and several local schools and colleges to deliver a range of activities giving young people an insight into STEM careers.

Thanks to ICE’s Bridges to School scheme, 140 pupils from Norham High School, Churchill Community College and Riverside Primary School worked with experienced Capita civil engineers to construct, cross and then dismantle a large scale, 15-metre model of a cable-stayed bridge. The task aimed to help pupils gain a better understanding of real-life civil engineering projects that are underway in their local area, including at Norham Road Bridge over the A1058 Coast Road. The hands-on bridge building allowed the youngsters to experience civil engineering directly, as well as learn about construction methods and principles of forces. They also developed problem solving and team working skills.

This was an unforgettable learning experience for everyone involved. The bridge was fantastic when it was complete and I know that each and every pupil who took part in this exercise was inspired by it. We’re always looking for new opportunities to enhance our pupils’ learning and understanding of the world around them, and we’re extremely grateful to the Institute of Civil Engineers, Capita and the North Tyneside Learning Trust for enabling this to happen at Norham High School.

David Baldwin

Executive headteacher, Norham High School and Churchill Community College

Women in engineering

Staying in the North East and as part of our partnership with Norham High School and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Enterprise Adviser network, Capita introduced female students at the school to roles and employment opportunities in the field of engineering on International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June. Three volunteers gave a presentation to the students about their career paths followed by an interactive workshop related to their respective roles.

Our ongoing work with North Tyneside Council - on its £7.2 million A1058 Coast Road Improvement Project- has been the focus for the career development work with the students.

Jen Chamley, people development and community engagement manager, Capita Local Government, is also an Enterprise Adviser at Norham High School and said: “There is an engineering skills shortage in the North East and the workshop with Norham High School was designed to give students a broader understanding of the different job roles and careers within the sector. Working in engineering doesn’t have to mean being an engineer, there are lots of interesting technical opportunities and careers that support this work. We arranged for some of our female staff members to talk to students about their particular roles and their path to their chosen career.

What’s been really exciting is that we’ve been able to use a real-life project happening right on the students’ doorstep to illustrate the benefits of a job in engineering.”

The team at Capita have really opened our students’ eyes to the range of careers and opportunities available to them and it’s fantastic to see pupils’ enthusiasm and drive.

Joanne Pearson

Student support lead, Norham High School

Looking to the future

For Capita, corporate responsibility is about tackling the social and environmental issues relevant to our business. We know that we can have a far bigger impact working collaboratively with our clients to deliver sustainable value. So, as we continue our relationships with our clients and embark on new partnerships, we will look to understand how we can better support the communities in which they work to address issues like youth unemployment and encouraging careers in STEM.

For more information about corporate responsibility at Capita, please visit www.capita.com/responsibility.

[1] http://www.people-first.co.uk/news/lack-of-stem-candidates-talent-shortage-beginning-to-bite

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