Jobs blackspot kids trade their way to work skills

A pioneering business charity has delivered a huge boost to the employment chances of almost 5,000 youngsters in a notorious jobs blackspot.

Students at schools in North West of England, which has been in the news due to high rates of young people not in education, work or training (NEETS), took part in a series of programmes created by the Young Enterprise organisation.

In a unique move, the young people , aged 13 to 16, were given the ability to measure their ’employability’ skill levels before and after taking part in the activities – and they recorded increases of up to 20% in a range of areas that will help them get a job.

During the past year thousands of students took part in Entrepreneurship Masterclasses in which real-life entrepreneurs shared their experiences first hand through a dynamic series of enterprise challenges.

Hundreds of students even set up their own real company over 10 weeks with the help and guidance of volunteers from local firms as part of the Quickstart Business programme, a fast paced, high energy business experience.

It was an intense challenge for the pupils as they had to appoint each other to key management roles and raise share capital.

Everyone who took part in these, and a range of other Young Enterprise programmes, recorded such big increases in skills their teachers are using the results to impress tough Ofsted inspectors.

All the students were asked to complete a printed questionnaire before and after taking part in Young Enterprise programmes including

They were asked to rate their key ‘employability’ skills before and after on a four point scale from ‘I have little/no skills ’’ to ‘’I have some skills’’, ‘’I have good skills’’ and ‘’I have excellent skills’’.

Their votes were evaluated by a rigorous Young Enterprise computer programme. This showed the young people had improved by 19.1% in planning skills, 19.1% in dealing with praise/criticism, 17.5% in solving problems, 14.4% in creative thinking, 13.9% in working in a team and 13.5% in communication.

The top three things they enjoyed were working in a team, being creative and being competitive. The three things they least enjoyed were doing presentations, managing their time and learning about business.

When asked what areas they believed would help them in the future the top three were: strengthened decision making, increased financial awareness and improved confidence in achieving goals.

The results provide a substantial ray of hope for the North West, an area highlighted as one of the worst for NEETS according to a report by the Work Foundation. It said that many areas, especially those around Blackpool, Blackburn, Wigan Wirral and Ellesmere Port and Rochdale were the hardest hit by youth unemployment, while problems were also acute around Bolton.

Young Enterprise is piloting the new method of assessing the impact of its work in the region with a view to spreading it nationwide. As Britain’s largest enterprise education charity, it steers 250,000 young people aged 4-25 through a range of programmes designed to help them learn about the world of work.

Catherine Marchant, Interim Chief Executive of Young Enterprise, said: ‘’The results of this pioneering survey prove the value of including enterprise education in the school curriculum. We are especially proud and delighted because the verdict is being given not by Young Enterprise staff or teachers – but the toughest audience of all – young people themselves.

‘’The schools where the programmes took place valued them so much that they are using the data to fill in their Ofsted self-assessment forms. It is an enormous boost for these young people coming so soon after the shocking story told by the Work Foundation report, because it shows these young people have gained real, marketable skills that will help them succeed in a ferociously competitive jobs market.’’

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