Sixteen unemployed young people have been given a helping hand by business leaders in Hull as they prepare for the world of work.
Sewell Group teamed up with The Prince’s Trust as part of Humber Business Week to deliver a unique spin on interviews, giving disadvantaged young people an opportunity to network with prominent local businesspeople, increase their interview skills and boost confidence.
The event, entitled All Rules Are Off, saw the young people interview the professionals in a speed-style scenario, providing an opportunity for the business leaders to support the next generation and offer an insight into what they look for in a new recruit.
Sophia Baines, 23, from east Hull, was among the young people who attended and said she is looking at a possible career in education.
She said: “The event was really useful and it was a refreshing change to ask employers questions rather than them asking you.
“I have really taken on board the advice from employers about presenting yourself and I hope the feedback I get will be really helpful.”
William Weichardt, 17, from Bransholme, has recently started The Prince’s Trust ‘Team’ programme, a 12-week personal development course for unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds, which allows participants to gain news skills, train and meet new people.
He said: “I want to be an engineer and it was interesting to find out what employers really look for. I’ve learnt never to give up, always persevere and try, try, try again.
“I love talking to people and this event has been amazing, inspirational and all round good fun.”
The Prince’s Trust believes every young person should have the chance to succeed and helps 11 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed, or struggling at school, to transform their lives.
Each year, the charity supports 60,000 disadvantaged young people across the UK, giving them the skills and confidence to find a job.
Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training and, since 1976, the charity has helped more than 800,000 young people turn their lives around.
Paul Sewell, Managing Director of Sewell Group, told the young people about his life and offered his advice to help them on their own career journeys.
From sitting on the kitchen floor and counting the family’s takings from the fruit trade, to having to give up a potential professional football career due to the threat of losing his sight and growing the 140-year-old Sewell Group, his career has been varied.
Paul said: “It was fantastic to see all those senior business and city figures giving up their time to talk to these young people and bring out the best in them. Every young person had something they could boast about and find great about themselves.
“These young people have been concentrating on the negatives in themselves, the downside and the knockbacks. Today, I hope we made them concentrate on what’s great about them, their opportunities, and lift their morale and spirits because they saw a range of people who have failed more times than they ever will.
“They probably look at these people and think they were born successful. They weren’t.
“They became successful from overcoming setbacks and I hope we showed them that today.”
The business leaders who attended ranged from Sewell staff to representatives from Spencer Group, Rix, Emmerson Kitney, Smith & Nephew, Wilberforce College and Beverley Motor Works.
Charlie Spencer, Founder and Executive Chairman of Spencer Group, said: “Giving time always makes a difference to people and, hopefully, this has inspired them and shown them they can do anything they want to do. They just need to plan it and do the work.
“I was really impressed by everyone I met. People were very honest and open to ideas.”
Kath Lavery, Chair of Humber Business Week, also spoke to the young people and said any support to help them into the world of work can only be positive.
She said: “There has been a theme with young people throughout Humber Business Week and this is continuing that theme.
“It was a great chance for young people to talk to business leaders on a one-to-one basis and they’re not going to get that offer very often. If I can help and my life history can help, that’s great. They are tomorrow’s workforce and it’s crucial.”
Dan Warren, The Prince’s Trust Outcomes Manager for the North of England, hailed the event a major success.
He said: “This has given young people an opportunity to interact with organisations that ordinarily they wouldn’t have mixed with.
“It’s all geared around breaking down barriers and raising aspirations for young people. The feedback has been really positive and we put them in control. They’ve identified their key skills and strengths, which is fantastic.
“Long term youth unemployment figures are still too high and this in turn leads to lost economic productivity and higher welfare costs.
“The costs for the individual are even more profound. Unemployment can have scarring effects on wages, increase the likelihood of future spells of unemployment and can also affect mental health and physical wellbeing too.”
Professional boxer Tommy Coyle was also among those who donated their time for the event and gave a speech to the young people about how he has achieved success.
He said: “I believe I have been successful because of three things. I’m not the best boxer but there’s a reason why I’m still standing and still going. I have put an abundance of hard work in from the age of six and I plan to carry on.
“I’ve made so many sacrifices throughout my life. I missed the school discos because I had to be at the gym at 6.30am and I didn’t go on holiday with my friends.
“But the biggest thing of all is perseverance. If I hadn’t persevered, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you all today.”