Kevin Munday's Story
Kevin travelled to Australia to investigate how to make apprenticeships more accessible and attractive to young people. He went on to establish a charity which mentors and supports young people as they enter the world of work.
There has been a renewed focus on apprenticeships within the UK over the last decade, with the number of people starting apprenticeships rising year on year. However, numbers remain low in comparison to Australia, where a third of young people take part in vocational education and training.
The aim of Kevin’s Fellowship in 2011 was to explore how Australia, as one of the world leaders in vocational training, could provide examples of how to engage employers, attract more young people into industry and train them effectively for the workplace. He met with government officials, peak bodies, training providers, employers and apprentices themselves, and had the opportunity to visit Apprenticeship Centres, local registered training organisations and employers in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
At the time of undertaking the Fellowship Kevin was the Head of 14-19 Development in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and he primarily wanted to use his new learning to increase the number of apprenticeships available to young people in my community. Through a campaign targeting local employers, extra support for training providers and coordinated promotion to young people, over the following twelve months he was able to almost double the number of apprenticeships in the borough.
As a result of the Fellowship Kevin also identified a series of wider recommendations for both policy makers and organisations that work with young people. He was able to promote these through a blog on a leading sector website and an event delivered in partnership with the Work Foundation.
However, the visit also changed Kevin’s views on how best to prepare young people for the world of work. Since 2012 he has been developing a programme to put into practice some of the lessons he learnt in Australia about supporting successful school to work transitions. ThinkForward intervenes early to significantly improve the chances of the young people most at risk of dropping out as they navigate the often challenging journey through school and into their first job. These young people are given a ‘super-coach’ from age 14 through to 19, who work one-to-one providing personalised, sustained support to overcome challenges at home and at school. The coaches help young people decide what they want to do when they finish school, and to build the skills, characteristics, contacts and confidence they’ll need to get there.
The programme is currently supporting over 1000 young people across 14 schools in East London and once the impact is proven Kevin hopes to begin scaling it up more widely. It is emerging as an example of good practice in its own right, with Kevin hosting return visits from Australia and well as other guests from the USA and Japan.