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What we have learnt from connecting care experienced young people to business

7 May 2021

Leicestershire Cares mission is to broker partnerships and create opportunities across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland that enable the business sector to understand community needs, contribute to the growth of inclusive, safe communities and to support and inspire children and young people in their transition to the workplace.

This ethos, lead to our Esmee Fairbairn funded Voices project to create our Promise to Care. A pledge that local businesses can sign to say that they want provide care experienced young people with access to the support and opportunities they need to progress in education, employment and their wider lives.

Since creating the Promise to Care we have reflected and learnt a lot about how to build relationship between care experienced young people and local businesses, the importance of sharing and transferring knowledge and lived experiences between the two and the power of working together to co-produce programmes that benefit both businesses and care experienced young people.

Here is some of our learning:

Approaching employers to encourage them to recruit a care experienced young person

  • Small and local is good

Look at smaller companies in the areas that the young person is interested in and look to create opportunities to speak and connect with them. Opening this connection is better than applying through a faceless online portal. Once this relationship has been established, make sure that the CV and cover letter for this young person reflects the job role and their desire to work in this field or for this company is ready to send to employers.

  • Big companies and their CSR: linking into UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ethical consumer

Approach larger employers to discuss their CSR targets and how they could attract diverse individuals whilst improving the outlook of care experienced young people. Employing and supporting a care experienced young person fits into the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an act of sustainability. The consumer market is changing, and consumers want to buy from ethical, greener and sustainable companies.

Wealth Creation is also a topic businesses are interested in. Find out what they are doing to promote wealth creation in their area and link their responsibility to invest in their area and support communities, by supporting care experienced young people.

  • Be open around the challenges that care experienced young people can face but also highlight just how resilient this makes them
  • Promote partnering together could help them to achieve their community and social responsibility outcomes
  • Discuss the apprenticeship levy and additional apprenticeship bursary of £1000 to an employer when recruiting a care leaver into an apprenticeship
  • Care experienced young people may lack experience or education, counteract this by offering the employer trial shifts where care experienced young people can showcase other skills such as resilience.
  • Celebrating good news stories and successes. Forwarding case studies to employers is perfect for this.
  • Local promise for local companies to sign to say they will support care experienced young people - We launched the Promise to Care, which is backed by the Care Leavers Covenant and has a similar aim, however, where the Covenant targets larger national corporations, we focus on local small to medium size businesses. This pledge is very flexible to suit what businesses can offer. It could be to ringfence 5 jobs for care leavers, or offer mock interviews, work experiences, work tours, mentoring or offer discounted goods etc. Businesses that sign up get a digital badge they can put on their website, and we offer training, support etc. that you have mentioned above.
  • Ask your local authorities to sign the Pledge and ask them to promote it to their contactors or even have signing it as a requirement to take part in the tendering process for providing services.

What support could you offer an employer?

  • Promote that you can ensure that the individual/individuals will be prepared for employment having completed mock interviews, an employer’s expectations session (which should be tailored to that company) will have their ID, bank account, access to suitable clothing, support with travel and where necessary sector based training
  • You could offer to support with pre-screening where volumes of opportunities are offered
  • Supporting the company with training around what a care experienced young person is and what extra support may be needed.
  • Offer employers a point of contact with you so that they are supported throughout the first 6-12 months of the young person’s placement, addressing the challenges that both parties can face when hiring a young person with personal barriers.
  • Networking. Offer hosting networking events, training days for businesses that offer support to care experienced young people.
  • Support the business with comms and PR around employing a care experienced young person. Putting them in your newsletter, website, quotes from your org, and young people, sharing on social media.

What support is needed for the care experienced young person?

  • Provide tailored advice to succeed through an application process, ensuring that YP have the skills and confidence required to apply and start work
  • Support given in completing application forms due to digital poverty. This might mean asking the employer to skip processes due to the exceptional circumstances around covid-19. For example, forwarding CV’S and cover letters instead of an application form, which would be impossible to complete without access to software/tech.
  • Preparation for work – highlight the expectations of employers including time keeping and how to present themselves, travelling to work, what to do if they face any issues, what a probation period is and what to expect. When is a disclosure letter may be required and how to complete this.
  • Interview stage – mock interviews and understanding the company set up and culture
  • Corporate parenting – sending good luck texts and “a time to get up” phone call on the morning of interviews or starting work goes a long way.
  • Starting work – agree an ongoing in work support plan to ensure the young person can discuss any concerns or issues at work with you in order to seek support and sustain in employment
  • Act as a go between with the employer where necessary to resolve any issues or concerns
  • Opening their eye to a range of careers, industries, and opportunities to start your own business. We run work tours where we will take a group of young people to a range of companies and industries so they can get a feel for the work environment. We also run Speedy Speakres where businesses/people present their industry/career in a 10 min presentation and have a 4 or 5 speakers in one session.
  • Finding young people a business mentor - It doesn't need to be anyone from the same company or industry, it just needs to be someone that has 'work' experiences that can support them. Be an extra pair of ears.
  • Offering them something constructive to do while they are not in work – As unemployment rises and the jobs market becomes more competitive we need to come up with something that can keep motivated and engaged young people focused and sharp. We offer a lot of advocacy and participation work for our young people.

Our work with care experienced young people

For more information about our work with care experienced young people, please contactJacob Brown: