Date: 03/09/13 Duration: 00:14:43

In this podcast we speak to some young people who are exploring their career options, as well as to some of the people involved in the ‘Inspiring the future’ project, which aims to provide CV and interview advice. Speakers include CIPD’s Kelly Duncan and Katerina Rudiger, and Nick Chambers of the Education and Employers Taskforce.

Female Voice: My name’s Danielle. I've never thought of writing a CV because I thought I didn’t have anything to put on it. I didn’t do any work or anything, except for my work experience. So I never thought to put any of my hobbies or my achievements. So then a lady, Sandra over there, was just helping me figure out what to write and then she helped me construct like what I've done. So it’s good to know that I can put it on there.

Male Voice: I'm not really sure what I want to be in the future and I came here today to find out the different choices and everything. I've signed in for the apprenticeships, I've learnt a lot here you know; I've basically tasted the world now a little bit here.

FV: I'm trying to still like look at apprenticeships or just get into any full time course, basically.

Phillipa Lamb: Okay. Have you any idea what sort of apprenticeship you might fancy?

FV: Anything to do basically with science or sports or psychology. I’ll look at psychology as well. So hopefully I’ll definitely find a full course that is for me. If I went for an interview I'm also a bit dodgy because I'm just not doing well with talking in front of people.

PL: So would it be handy for you, then, to have a bit of coaching about how to handle interviews, that sort of thing?

FV: Yeah, definitely, yeah. Anything to do with where I'm not presented right there, but anything behind the scenes like writing a letter - I can definitely do that.

PL: Okay. For you it’s the face to face bit that's the problem?

FV: Yeah, the face to face bit. I'm going to need loads of help from someone.

FV: I believe if I was to look at your CV at a glance I would probably say...

PL: Well, these school pupils have some big decisions to make about their futures. That's why they’re attending a careers event in North London. It’s part of a new scheme called Inspiring the Future designed to match up volunteers from all sectors and professions with secondary school and college pupils to shed light on careers, sectors and how to go about getting a job. In the past this podcast series has investigated the issue of youth unemployment but now the economy is beginning to recover, albeit very slowly, where does this leave those who have been some of the worst hit by the financial collapse – the 16 to 24 year olds? Katerina Rudiger is the CIPD’s Head of Skills and Policy Campaigns.

Katerina Rudiger: So overall it’s still really difficult for young people to find that all-important first job and to make the transition from education to work. There is some good news on the horizon, though. So three things that are happening: firstly apprenticeships are on the rise; more young people know about apprenticeships which used to be an issue previously, but also more employers are offering apprenticeships and going actively out promoting those opportunities to young people. Then secondly, more employers are sponsoring young people through university; there are sponsored degree routes, which is obviously good news especially in light of the rise in tuition fees. And then thirdly internships; we’ve seen improvements there. Internships are still offered but most of them are paid and employers are putting more effort into making them a good opportunity for young people, but overall there are still a lot of issues and we do see some young people trapped into a cycle where they do one internship after another and where they can't get any experience and then employers asking for experience. So yeah, it’s a sort of Catch 22, really.

PL: Inspiring the Future works by recruiting volunteers and sending them into schools and careers fairs like this, where they spend an hour of their time talking to a group of young people about careers or provide advice on CV writing and interview techniques. Nick Chambers is director of the Education and Employers Taskforce, the charity coordinating Inspiring the Future.

Nick Chambers: We’re delivering a survey which looked at those young people that had no links with business at all, who are now between 19 and 24; a survey of those 19 to 24 year olds said that if they had no experience of the world of work before that age, 26% were now unemployed. By contrast, for those who'd met a number of employers and had a number of engagements, that dropped to 4%. So from 26% to 4% just because they had a better understanding of the different roles and the things they need to do to get a decent job and to keep a decent job.

PL: Compelling evidence, then, that matching up young people with those in employment makes a big difference to their employment prospects and it was out of this that Inspiring the Future was born. Kelly Duncan is the CIPD’s Volunteers Manager for the project.

Kelly Duncan: Inspiring the Future is a project that allows volunteers from all industries, sectors and job roles to give the students a real life experience as to what their career journey was, why they made decisions; it just helps them realise from an outsider’s point of view rather than having a teacher tell them about careers and it really helps them make decisions for their future.

PL: So this is real working people talking to real kids at school about what working life is like?

KD: Yeah, absolutely and it allows the students to broaden their minds. We found that most of the students we’ve spoken to recently you ask them, “Would you like to work in the NHS?” and they think, ‘Yeah I might want to be a doctor or a nurse’; they don’t think about the wider possibilities within the NHS of marketing...

PL: All the other roles.

KD: …everything and they don’t think about that. So having an employer come in will allow them to broaden their minds and actually think in different ways about their careers and what’s actually available for them.

PL: The careers fairs go hand in hand with in-school talks and blend exhibitions of internships and apprenticeships providers with CV workshops and insight talks. Twenty events have just been run across the country over the summer. When volunteers sign up, they can choose whether they want to deliver a careers insight talk or CV or interview workshop, or both. Inspiring the Future is backed by the government and leading organisations in employment and education, and the need for careers guidance for young people is widely recognised because the careers advice most of them get at school just isn’t doing the job. Nick Chambers.

NC: I think we need to significantly improve careers provision in the UK, I think that's a fairly widely held belief, particularly when you've got the introduction of tuition fees over the last few years and kids are making a decision which has financial cost, and what we want to do is make sure they have enough information so they’re making informed decisions. There's more choice now for young people than ever but with that choice comes complexity and actually it’s quite hard to understand there are so many choices. It’s a bit like going to a restaurant which has a very, very long menu and you spend a very long time and very undecided as to what to do, whereas if you've got a shorter menu it’s easier to decide and I think for a lot of young people they find this sort of complexity really difficult, and then they end up putting things off because they don’t know quite what they want to do, they don’t know the route for them, so often they don’t do anything and then if you’re not very careful you get into a period of not working and then it gets really hard to get into the workplace.

PL: The CIPD is working with Nick’s charity to get HR professionals into schools to talk to young people about their CVs and interview technique. Now they’re looking for 5,000 volunteers willing to spend just a couple of hours once a year in a local state school or college. As well as running the volunteer programme, Kelly also leads CV workshops at Inspiring the Future events.

KD: So can I ask how you put your CV together? Did you have any advice at school from career advisers or teachers?

MV: Not really, they were too busy drinking coffee or something like that.

KD: ((laughs)) Okay.

MV: So not very helpful.

KD: So this is something you've done on your own?

MV: Yeah, with a bit of help from my mum as well.

KD: Ah, brilliant.

Rocky Lloyd: My name is Rocky Lloyd I'm 16 years old. I currently am looking for part time work on the weekend but I will soon be joining Haringey sixth form college to study law.

KD: So I'm just going to have a look through it and perhaps identify some areas that we can change things round. Fantastic that you've highlighted that you can speak fluent Russian - really, really good. Most of the young people that we’ve met are looking on the internet for a job and that’s it. Now as you and I both know to look on a site like there's hundreds of applicants for one particular job. You narrow it down and you say to a young person, “Where else can you look for work?” and they look at you with a blank expression like, “Well I don't know where else can you look for work?” They don’t realise that local papers, word of mouth, neighbours, even going into the Job Centre, they think that that's just where you go and sign on, it’s actually you can get careers advice in there, National Apprenticeship Service are in there. Half of them don’t even know what an apprenticeship is or what you can get from it.

So on this section here you can highlight that you’re about to start a college course in September; you can highlight the length of time that it is and what you expect to achieve once you've finished that. Okay - so it’s the boxing that's your passion?

RL: Yeah.

KD: So are you a member of a boxing club?

RL: Yeah, Edmonton Eagles.

KD: Okay, fabulous, highlighting that you are a member of a club and a team would really show the employers that you are a team worker and that you’re committed.

RL: I thought, yeah, I could do with someone checking my CV because usually you do it online so yeah, it’s good that I came down here. That was really helpful.

KD: There's so much stuff missing that is available for them but we just need to be the ones to show it to them.

PL: So there's a real hunger for the advice?

KD: Yeah absolutely. Unfortunately they’re not receiving it at school or college where they should be, so obviously it’s our responsibility to provide it because we know we can. Our members have got the knowledge, they’ve got the experience and they’re the best placed people to provide it.

PL: Anna Paterson is one of the volunteers, she's a registered manager at Care Watch, a home care provider and she has a background in HR.

Anna Paterson: What I did, what I said to them was, well because you haven’t got a job, experience, that's the least of the things you need to be concerned about. What we want you to look at is what sort of skillset you feel you have already within you? What things have you achieved so far in your life? “Oh we don’t know.” Yes you have, come on think about it, dig deep. And I said, “Well, tell me what you do at school”, and one of them said, “Well I'm the captain of the football team.” And I said, “Well, so the captain of a football team, what do you need to do?” They said, “Well I need to organise them to get them to training. I need to ensure that they turn up with all their kits and things like that.” So I said, “Do you realise that's the sort of things for leaders in the workplace?”

PL: It’s a management job.

AP: It’s a management role. You are actually doing things, you’re organising people, you’re helping to organise people, you’re delegating, you are prioritising, you are also being a real good team player as well. And I said, “Those are the things that you could put down on your CV to show that you have got, already within you, the skills that we need in organisations.”

PL: This is a project with a social heart and it works to address the essential inequality of access that still dogs the job market. Here’s Nick Chambers again.

NC: It’s unacceptable, I think, to have kids’ career choices entirely dependent upon who their parents happen to be or which school they happen to go to. I mean I think that's not really a fair way for our society to operate, so I think there's a sort of social issue but I think it’s self-interest in a way of employers getting in there talking about their sector, so it’s a sort of talent pipeline, so it’s in the employer’s self-interest and it’s a social interest and also schools, it’s in their interests because they want the best for their students. So you've got a number of drivers.

PL: So you’re finding that the employers who work with you see a real commercial imperative? This isn’t philanthropy?

NC: Yeah, a lot of it is down to the bottom line - they need to recruit people and a lot of businesses are struggling in particular sectors to find the right people with the right skills. Some sectors, as we know, have got an ageing workforce. Then the nature of work and the nature of employment is changing rapidly and the skillsets rapidly. And if you’re an employer you need to be going in and talking to young people, telling them the sort of opportunities, telling them the types of work, which is a way of talking about your company and explaining what your company has done.

PL: And according to Kelly the volunteers find it incredibly rewarding.

KD: You can feel and you can see that they’ve been incredibly moved by the young people, simply because you sit with a young person for ten minutes and you see how hard they’ve got it but knowing full well that something that you might have said to them, even if it’s just one thing, that it has changed their opinion and in a week’s time that young person can go and find a job. So the volunteers always say how rewarding it is and can they do more, can they help at other events, and they’ll spread the word to all of their colleagues and their friends because they know how worthwhile that it actually is.

PL: Now you want more volunteers don’t you?

KD: We do indeed yes, lots more. We are hopefully able to recruit a further 5,000 by August 2014.

PL: That's quite a target.

KD: It is quite a target, however I'm confident we’ll get it because I know that the passion and the ambition is there from our members.

PL: Volunteer Anna Paterson.

AP: Some of the children that you look at, they lose their way, you see some of the things that go on with gangs and because they feel nobody wants to help them or they feel well there's nothing, what’s the point? And I think if we can get more people with a passion to give some meaningful stuff to children and give them some more guidance and share some of our own experience with them and say, “Look you can do it. You don’t have to come from a privileged background you can come from an ordinary background. I've come from an ordinary background and I run my own business. I want to give something back.” So yeah, I think Inspiring the Future is the way to go to help develop our next generation.

PL: It’s a great scheme and HRs at all levels can help. If you’re tempted to get involved it couldn’t be simpler, just visit the website at and sign yourself up.

Next month we’ll be finding out how pensions auto enrolment is panning out one year on.