How The Prince’s Trust is helping young people prepare for work

Charlotte Williams students records apprentice at Chesterfield college.
Charlotte Williams students records apprentice at Chesterfield college.

Gaining the knowledge and experience to take you into the world of work is a tough call for any young person.

Each rejection letter damages the recipient’s confidence, making them despair that they will ever find employment.

Among the many young people chasing jobs are those classed as disadvantaged, who may have struggled at school, are facing issues of homelessness or mental health problems or may have been in trouble with the law.

The Prince’s Trust exists for them.

During the last 12 months, the charity has helped 4,750 young people in the East Midlands, 800 of whom are living in Derbyshire.

A new report to mark the trust’s 40th anniversary shows how the charity has returned £105m in value to the society in this region through its help for disadvantaged young people over the last ten years.

The calculation by the New Economics Foundation takes into account the return on investment of getting young people off benefits, reducing offending and re-offending. helping people to achieve at school and the associated savings to the public purse.

As part of YouGov research, young people were polled across the East Midlands to find out what support they received and their prospects for the future, which revealed why The Prince’s Trust is more relevant today than ever.

n Nearly two-thirds of young people (63 per cent) said they had no support from anyone when searching for a job

n Over half of the young people (61 per cent) ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ received help with their homework

n One in four of young people (25 per cent) said they struggle to get work experience).

John O’Reilly, director of The Prince’s Trust in Central England, said: “At The Prince’s Trust we know that the vast majority of young people are motivated to get into work, contribute to society and be successful in their lives. Unfortunately so many lack the confidence and opportunities they need to reach their potential.

“Over 40 years, the trust has been committed to supporting young people and giving them the chance to succeed. As well as providing young people with skills and experience, crucially our programmes give young people the self-belief to realise and reach their potential.”

College apprentice Charlotte Williams believes that confidence-boosting work experience organised by The Prince’s Trust helped her secure her current placement.

She said: “I was born with fallen arches so was quite limited in what I could do work-wise. I couldn’t stand for a long time which meant customer service jobs behind the till were out of the question – so I was stuck with admin.”

Her first taste of working life was in Chesterfield filing the medical records of people seeking Employment and Support Allowance. She later helped out at the Ashgate Hospice shop in Eckington.

In 2014, Charlotte, 21, of Handley Road, New Whittington, had two heel lift operations which meant that she couldn’t move around for six weeks at a time. She said: “I was just stuck which made me depressed. After my ops I got ill and lost a lot of weight – I suffered sickness, insomnia, paranoia and anxiety. My confidence levels dropped.”

As her health recovered, Charlotte was able to explore job opportunities and found out about The Prince’s Trust through training provider Ingeus. She said: “I went to an open day at Chesterfield Royal Hospital where there was a team building exercise. Everyone had to make a chair out of cardboard and see if it could hold a glass of water. They cancelled people out until they got a small group and I was chuffed when I got in.”

She began a month-long training course at the hospital where she split her week between reception desk at the decontamination unit and the laundry room. She said: “It was quite terrifying at first but every now and then you’d hear someone in the decontamination unit singing. It was nice meeting new people, swapping stories, getting knowledge and experience.”

In March this year, Charlotte succeeded in gaining a year-long apprenticeship in the student records office at Chesterfield College. She said: “I listed all the different things I’d done, admin, customer service and the hospital, all these things have come together to form what got me the apprenticeship.

“Money is not important, it’s the wisdom, the knowledge and experiencing it all which is worth everything.”