News: Supporting young people into employment post Covid-19

Published: 19 Jun 2020

News: Supporting young people into employment post Covid-19

According to the Resolution Foundation, the 800,000 school leavers and graduates due to leave education this year are the most exposed age group to a likely unemployment surge caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Churchill Fellows across the UK are working to support young people in education so that they can prepare for employment post Covid-19.

"Society is facing a massive rise in unemployment – and young people, especially disadvantaged young people, will be especially vulnerable." - John Blackmore, Fellow

Emma Sullivan (CF 2018) is co-founder and CEO of Prospela, a social enterprise that provides career mentoring to school and university students. To replace work experience placements and networking events cancelled due to Covid-19, Emma has been helping students to build professional networks through the Prospela online platform. Emma has also reached out to mentors and created a database of resources for students that will help them join their chosen industries.

“We are helping students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, to build their much-needed professional networks through our platform,” says Emma. “This allows our students to have meaningful interactions with real employee volunteers in a fully safeguarded online environment.”

Erin Dooley (CF 2019) is a digital health project officer at the University of Bristol faculty of engineering. In conjunction with the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute for Health Research, Erin has helped to develop an online training and development programme for undergraduates interested in digital healthcare. This aims to be a remote solution to the many traditional internships and work placements that have been put on hold due to Covid-19. Through the programme, students are able to engage in online internships and learn more about the practices and principles of digital health research.

“By providing internship opportunities remotely across disciplines and subject areas, access can be more equal,” says Erin. “This model could provide more students with the opportunity to study a wider range of subject areas during Covid-19 and beyond.”

Kevin Munday (CF 2011) is Chief Executive at City Year, a youth charity that runs an annual leadership programme for 18-25-year olds. To replace face-to-face mentoring sessions, Kevin has set up online ‘learning from leaders’ workshops, so that young people can still access careers advice and support. As well as this, Kevin has helped to organise an entirely online interview skills day, to help young people prepare for employment. Kevin has also been working to support young people’s mental wellbeing and has set up daily check-ins with young people including telephone counselling for those who need extra support.

“We are working hard to support our young people during this time so that they can prepare for employment in a tough job market,” says Kevin. “When lockdown ends, we will sustain some of the virtual learning we have developed as a cost-effective way of providing support."

“Instilling confidence in young people is key in preparing them for an uncertain future.” - Elizabeth Adelodun, Fellow

John Blackmore (CF 2002) is the chief executive at Action West London, a social enterprise that supports disadvantaged young people aged 15-24 into employment. In response to Covid-19, John has set up a remote support programme to continue helping young people who are seeking employment or training. This includes setting up webinars, delivering CV workshops, providing help with job applications and making regular phone calls to young people. John and his team have also continued to place young people into jobs, many of which have been within the essential services sectors.

“Society is facing a massive rise in unemployment – and young people, especially disadvantaged young people, will be especially vulnerable,” says John. “We will work with businesses and employers to increase the numbers of disadvantaged young people we can help through remote support.”

Elizabeth Adelodun (CF 2018) is the founder of Mindtorch, a non-profit organisation that connects 16-25-year-olds with mentors in science and medical industries. To replace networking and engagement events, Elizabeth has developed a suite of online resources in collaboration with industry professionals and universities. These aim to support young people as they prepare to enter roles within their chosen fields, and include case studies and practical advice for how they can gain employment after Covid-19.

“My focus is to share insight, information and advice for young people so that they are able to adapt to a changing and competitive job market,” says Elizabeth. “Instilling confidence in young people is key in preparing them for an uncertain future.”

Phil Avery (CF 2014) is the Director of Education at the Bohunt Education Trust, a multi-academy trust that supports seven secondary schools in the south of England. As part of his role, Phil has helped to develop a new curriculum, Game-Changer, which promotes healthy mental wellbeing by encouraging students to go outdoors. Phil has also been working on a research programme with the educational organisation ImpactEd. As part of this, a survey has been sent out to over 10,000 students and aims to understand the impact of lockdown on student learning and wellbeing.

“We're really looking forward to welcoming our Year 10 and Year 12 students back, but we are aware of the difficulties they have faced over the last few months,” says Phil. “We have pathways setup for those that are struggling with their mental health or to reengage with education.”

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