GCSE results just a start for youngsters’ careers

Advice for local youngsters.

With GCSE results now out, young people in the West Midlands are being encouraged to think about how their first experiences in the world of work could lead to even the unlikeliest of career paths – with help at hand through their local Jobcentre Plus.

Some of the UK’s most well-known celebrities had unlikely starts to their careers as revealed by the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) #firstjobs campaign – Davina McCall worked as a sales assistant, Lenny Henry was a welder and Myleene Klass surveyed rivers.

Now the government is encouraging young people to make the most of the remaining summer by gaining valuable skills in the world of work, which could help them secure their first job, including through Government schemes such as work experience, apprenticeships and sector-specific training.

Youth unemployment is now 127,000 lower than it was in 2010, and across the country last summer, around 100,000 more people started a new job compared to earlier on in the year – including young people for the first time after leaving education.

Patricia Howe, from Jobcentre Plus in the West Midlands, said: “Entering the world of work can be daunting for some people, which is why we want to make sure young people in the West Midlands have the skills and experience they need to get a job.

“Young people often tell us they can’t get a job without work experience and they can’t get work experience without a job. That is why we introduced our work experience scheme to give people a taste of the world of work which could open the door to other jobs and careers.”

There’s plenty of help and advice on things like work experience and skills training available through Jobcentre Plus. The Government has also massively expanded work experience, changing the rules so that young people (aged 18-24) on Jobseeker’s Allowance can now do up to two months work experience without it affecting their benefits. Work experience is a voluntary scheme run through Jobcentre Plus.

The government has also increased the number of apprenticeships available, and through sector based work academies young people can get sector-specific training in areas like the hospitality industry, along with work experience placements and a guaranteed job interview.

Patricia’s top five tips for young jobseekers in the West Midlands:

1. Give your CV a makeover – Keep it short – a maximum of two sides of A4 is enough. Try to tailor it to the job.
2. Go online – create a profile on Universal Jobmatch to get jobs automatically matched to your CV, register for job alerts and update online profiles.
3. Networking works – link up with employers you like on Twitter and LinkedIn
4. Be prepared – practice answers to tricky interview questions to make sure that you are always prepared.
5. Try work experience – you’ll get to see what a job is like and show an employer what you’re made of.

Since January 2011, around 200,000 young people have taken part in work experience or an employer-led placement which includes sector-specific training, work experience and a guaranteed interview. Through the New Enterprise Allowance 3,370 businesses have been started by entrepreneurial young people and the Work Programme has helped over 71,000 young people escape long-term unemployment.

An apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with studying, helping people to gain valuable skills and experience and earn a salary at the same time.
Anyone 16 or over and not in fulltime education can apply for an apprenticeship. They can take between 1 and 4 years to complete and enable people to work alongside experienced staff, gain job-specific skills, earn a wage and study towards a related qualification. More information available here: www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

Sector-based work academies are designed to give people sector-specific training – such as in hospitality or construction – and work experience placements for a period of up to six weeks, followed by a job interview with an employer. Because they are designed and led by employers, they are set up in sectors where businesses need to recruit people with the right skills in order to help their businesses grow.

People on the scheme continue to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobcentre Plus can help with travel and childcare costs while people are on the work experience placement. For more information, people should talk to their jobcentre plus adviser.