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Helping youngsters get ready for the world of work

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Working with youngsters

Around 1,000 year-nine and 10 pupils from schools across Cumbria have taken part in an initiative to make them work ready.

Over the past month, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has hosted four events to help the youngsters, aged from 13 to 15, learn how to make themselves appealing to potential employers and find out about the career opportunities available with some of the county’s leading businesses.

The initiative follows research the Chamber carried out earlier this year, where employers told us that some school leavers lack the social skills to interact.

The idea is to give the youngsters guidance that will make them more employable and, at the same time, a taste of work and some of the opportunities available in Cumbria.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Many employers rate attitude to work and inter-personal skills more highly than academic qualifications, so this is a crucial area and one these events are attempting to address.

“The idea is to give the youngsters guidance that will make them more employable and, at the same time, a taste of work and some of the opportunities available in Cumbria.”

Around 20 employers took part in each event – held at Newton Rigg near Penrith, Kendal College, Carlisle College and Lakes College, Workington – including the likes of BAE Systems, DRS, Kendal Nutricare, Armstrong Watson and Doosan Babcock. The training provider Gen2 also participated.

The youngsters learned what they should put on a CV, how to improve their inter-personal skills and presentability, and how indiscreet social media posts can damage their prospects given that many employers now screen the social media output of potential recruits.

The careers organisation Inspira delivered talks on apprenticeships, and the students were able to test their skills in practical hands-on sessions from cake decorating to car maintenance, construction and beauty – all designed to get them thinking on what they might do when they leave school.

Rob added: “Young people can struggle to see the relevance of what they are being taught. By showing how basic skills can lead to a rewarding career, we can have a big impact on their willingness to learn.”

Working with younsters at the event

Feedback from the schools and employers is encouraging.

Rail operator DRS, for example, described the event as “very productive” and commented on how engaged the young people were.

Michelle Turner, a teacher at Walney School in Barrow, said: “It opened young people’s eyes to life beyond the A590. It was an informative, well organised and engaging day with a clear impact on the aspirations of learners.”

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce

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