‘The programme has played a significant role in helping local employers to see the importance of growing these young people as valuable members of the local workforce. ’
Eoin Rush — Assistant Director, Children and Families, City of York Council
Starting Blocks is an award-winning programme which provides skills development workshops and supported work placements for care leavers aged 16-18 and young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs). These young people often have poor educational attainment and lack the skills and experience required to secure employment whilst they cope with the pressures of independent living.
The programme was the result of a conversation between York Cares and City of York Council, which highlighted that young care leavers are among the most vulnerable in the city. The model was developed by York Cares and partner organisations Aviva, City of York Council, University of York and York Marriott Hotel. In July 2009 it was highlighted by the then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, as an example of good practice for the From Care2Work programme. Since then, Starting Blocks has expanded to support 16-18 year old NEETs from York College and Askham Bryan who are not in education, employment or training.
More recently, the York Cares Starting Blocks programme has become part of the Springboard Project, a lottery funded project led by Foundation which provides ‘wrap-around-support’ for care leavers aged 16 – 25 in York, Selby and Ryedale.
Starting Blocks now provides a number of opportunities for care leavers and NEETS which enable them to experience the world of work, gain valuable work based skills and increase their confidence levels ready for independent living.
We are constantly looking for new employer partners to deliver Behind the Scenes Tasters for young people. The taster is an opportunity for young people to visit a local employer and learn about the jobs undertaken there. Many employers incorporate a workshop into the session which focuses on employability skills development, such as :
- Improving your CV
- Interview technique
- Identifying your skills
- Work etiquette
- Short-listing candidates
- What it is like to work outdoors / in a hotel
Following on from taster sessions, it is important to encourage the young people to use their newly learnt skills to apply for a work placement, which can last between 1and 4 weeks. Work placements are supported by a work buddy who encourages the young person to make the most of the opportunity and to develop important work and social skills, invaluable for future employment.
York Cares provides support for work buddies and puts them in contact with the young person’s Pathway Worker or College Tutor, who is on-hand to offer advice and support.
To find out more about how your organisation can get involved in Starting Blocks — or anything else about York Cares — just contact our dedicated team, based at the University of York. We would love to hear from you.
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