Meet the team of Executive Directors
Laura-Jane Rawlings – Founder & CEO of Youth Employment UK
Before launching Youth Employment UK CIC, Laura-Jane worked for many years in the recruitment sector. As a recruiter, Laura-Jane was well placed to see the challenges facing young people leaving education and the issues of the employment community. Spending time to better understand the structural issues of youth unemployment and the policy around the area, Laura-Jane founded Youth Employment UK in 2012.
Laura-Jane is a passionate campaigner for youth employment and the rights for all young people to access quality employment and have their voices heard on the issues that affect them. Laura-Jane believes that it is for all of us to create a youth friendly society so that young people can fulfil their potential.
Recognised as a leading youth employment expert Laura-Jane provides support, insight and expertise to many groups such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment, two ESF National Sub-Committees: Employment, Skills and Social Inclusion and Equality and Diversity and has supported a range of expert groups on issues of social mobility, employment and skills. Laura-Jane is also a Board Member of the Youth Futures Foundation and spent 8 years as a Secondary School Governor.
Laura-Jane has worked on consultative projects with organisations such as the Cambridge Local Authority, Northamptonshire Learning Partnership, Chilled Food Association, OCR, Plotr, PiXL, and the National Citizen Service.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller. This is how Laura-Jane feels about youth unemployment. Her belief is that only a joined-up approach working with everyone invested in youth unemployment (especially young people) will have a chance of really tackling youth unemployment.
Stewart has worked in the funded work based learning sector for over 20 years and has supported Association of Education and Learning Providers since its formation. Stewart worked as an independent consultant within the training sector, working with a number of training providers and colleges specialising in business development and funding issues. Coming from a background in HR and general management in the private sector, Stewart joined the Hertfordshire Training and Enterprise Council in 1994 as Chief Executive. He went on to join Spring Skills as Chief Executive in 1998. Spring Skills was then the largest independent training provider in the sector and involved in the delivery of a range of programmes in service sectors including retail, customer services, hospitality and business administration.
Amy has a background in HR and international assignments. She is responsible for the design, delivery and promotion of BT’s Work Ready programme, supporting 4,500 unemployed 18-24 year olds in the past 5 years. Amy is passionate about boosting the aspirations of young people and NEETs, and focusses her efforts on developing programmes that have a demonstrable impact in this space. Most recently this has included collaborating with not for profit organisations to create highly engaging events inspiring young people into digital careers.
Outside of work Amy runs a Girl Guide company, helping 10-14 year old girls develop skills, experience new opportunities and build confidence.
Barry brings a wide range of experience to the Board through his 15 year career in the youth and employment sectors. Barry is the CEO of Career Connect a leading North West based charity providing innovative careers and employment support to young people and adults. Prior to Career Connect he was Managing Director at Ingeus UK, leading some of the largest youth and adult employment programmes across the UK. In addition, Barry is a Trustee of the Future Youth Zone in London providing ground-breaking youth provision for 8-18 year olds and is Vice Chair of Headlines health charity. Barry is passionate about addressing youth employment issues, through both policy and practice and is delighted to be supporting Youth Employment UK in its mission.
Bob Hartley is a highly confident, enthusiastic and thorough Operational Interim with many years’ experience up to Director level in the food, FMCG and chemical allied industries. He has a sustained record of achievement in customer service, good manufacturing practice, coaching and improving staff motivation. Bob has been a supporter of Youth Employment UK since its inception and in 2016 become a Non-Executive Director. Bob brings a wide range of skills to the Exec team including operational and process improvement, strategic development and people development.
I stumbled across digital marketing apprenticeships at Youth Employment UK’s Youth Friendly Employment Conference in 2015, and I’ve since completed a Level 3, Level 4 and Level 6. The Chartered Institute of Marketing are currently developing a Level 7 Apprenticeship, so it’s likely I’m going to continue on my learning journey.
I’ve been volunteering with Youth Employment UK since 2015. I’m currently sitting as Chair of the Youth Ambassador Board, and more recently at the start of 2020 I was invited to sit as a Non Executive Director. One of the best opportunities I’ve had was travelling to Krakow, Poland, for the European Congress of Local Governments.
Day to day I’m a Digital Marketing Executive at Kreston Reeves, a UK top 25 accountancy and financial services firm based in the South East.
Meet the Operations Team
Lauren Mistry – Operations Director
Lauren has worked in HR, Recruitment and Careers Services since leaving University in 2008 where she studied Business Management. Lauren is passionate about ensuring that young people have the support and services that they need to progress.
Lauren oversees the operations of Youth Employment UK as well as the content management, ensuring that the information shared with young people meets their needs. Lauren has led the redesign of the Youth Employment UK site and manages the extensive content plan, campaigns and messaging. Lauren has an exceptional understanding of the audiences Youth Employment UK serve.
Lauren has led key research projects as part of her role, exploring employability skills in our 2017 literature review, supporting on the Role of the Family in Social Mobility report published in 2018 and leads on our Youth Voice Census. Most recently Lauren has joined the IEP West Midlands Pilot project to lend her support and expertise to this important piece of work.
Ian joined the team following 10 years in senior positions within the Sport,Leisure and Wellbeing sectors working within Local Government and National Governing Bodies. With a background in project and contract management as well as partnership development, he hopes to become a part of Youth Employment UK’s success.
Ian is responsible for the continued engagement and support of Youth Employment UK’s clients and partners and is passionate about broadening the horizons of young people by bringing employers and opportunities to life as part of Youth Employment UK’s career hub.
Alesha Patel – Youth Engagement and Ambassador Coordinator
Alesha achieved a JNC qualification in Youth and Community Work at Newman University. During this time she gained an array of quality experiences, working with young people in different settings whilst completing her placement hours. Before completing the last year of her degree she began working as an assistant youth worker within a large charity organisation where she ran her own area project within a year.
Her passion for working with and for young people has continued as she joins our team at Youth Employment UK and has taken the role of Youth Engagement and Ambassador Coordinator. Here she hopes to use her Youth Work experience and skills to make the programme her own and ensure the ambassadors gain the most out of Youth Employment UK, using their voice to shape every part of the process from beginning to end.
Magda Knight – Head of Digital Content
Magda Knight is Head of Digital Content at Youth Employment UK. With extensive experience in both online publishing and youth community support, she understands what young people need – and how to offer them vital support in a way they can engage with.
Meet the Youth Ambassador Board
Hello everyone, I’m Amran. I am a third year university student studying Psychology. I came across Youth Employment UK through scouring LinkedIn profiles for inspiration. I decided to take advantage of the pandemic and commit more hours to volunteering. I became an ambassador for Youth Employment UK because it resonates with my passion of helping others and making a positive impact on peoples lives. My past work experience is what sparked my passions such as working as a social work intern and care work. I also currently mentor First Year university students.
I am excited to step outside my comfort zone, up my skills and take on leadership roles.
My journey with Youth Employment UK started in November 2019, when I was on a gap year after finishing my A levels. I found the Youth Employment UK website whilst researching what careers/apprenticeships were out there and whilst going through the Careers Hub, I stumbled across the youth ambassador programme. I emailed off my application and the rest is history!
At the start of 2020, I applied for an engineering apprenticeship and if I’m being honest, I didn’t think I was going to get it. But low and behold, I got the phone call back in March to say that they were offering me the role and I officially started in September 2020!
Since joining Youth Employment UK, I have had the honour of becoming a Member of the Youth Ambassador Board and I’ve presented at various seminars including APPGs (All Party Parliamentary Groups). These opportunities gave me a huge confidence boost and really helped me prepare for the world of work, which is the exact feeling I hope young people have when they use the Youth Employment UK website.
I decided to become a Youth Ambassador because I don’t want any young person to feel that they can’t do something because they have been convinced by teachers, careers advisors or the entire education system that it’s not for them. If I had listened to my careers advisor and college tutors, I would be at university doing a degree that I felt like I had to do, rather than being on an award winning apprenticeship programme which I love. My aim as a youth ambassador is to help show young people what opportunities are out there and help to give them the confidence to go for them, no matter what their background is or where they’ve come from. And also, to show young people that it’s okay to make mistakes and to make a change, whether that’s in the form of embarking on a new qualification or changing career path. Every young person has the capacity to do anything that they set their mind to, I’m just here with the rest of Youth Employment UK to help young people realise that fact.
I graduated with a 2:1 in Sport Business Management and now work as a customer service manager. I love sport – I play and coach both county disabled cricket and disabled football. Since 2019 I have been joining youth panels/groups which has sparked my love of policy and making changes in sport and employment. I enjoy the young persons opinion element too, which I feel is important because who is best suited to understanding what young people want.
I joined as an ambassador so that I could share my opinion and make changes in youth employment. Many of my peers have struggled to find work or apprenticeships and I want to make employers and the government aware of the benefit young people can have in the workplace and that they should be supported more as they are the future.
I joined the ambassador youth board because I want to support the programme, engage other young people and be someone ambassadors can talk to. I want to use my knowledge and experience to take the next step on my journey. Overall I am excited and feel as a youth board we can do amazing things together.
I’m Harvey! My journey into the world of entrepreneurship started in 2013, when I founded my own company, Harvey Morton Digital, while I was still at school. Between juggling GCSEs and A-Levels, I managed to forge a successful business and develop a fantastic reputation with clients throughout the UK and further afield. I have also picked up my fair share of accolades, too – including the IPSE Young Freelancer of the Year 2018.
Charity work has always been close to my heart. When I started my business, my teachers told me I’d never be able to get through a school enterprise competition I entered – but I was fortunate enough to have plenty of wonderful people cheering me on from the sidelines.
These days, I aim to be a cheerleader for others, and I’m thrilled to have been appointed as a Member of the Youth Employment UK Ambassador Board.
I’m currently studying my A levels and began volunteering with Youth Employment UK in October of 2020, as i’ve always wanted to help young people’s voices be heard. Being a young person still in education-i’ve seen first hand the lack of support and resources available to the youth and really believe the work myself and the rest of the team does makes a difference. I know there’s still a lot of work to be done to give every young person the best chance of success irrespective of their background which is why i decided to become a board member.
Hi, I’m Sophie and I’m a current master’s student at the University of Leeds.
I joined Youth Employment UK because I believe strongly that a young person’s background should not determine their opportunities in life and that young people have a voice on the issues which affect them in education and employment
This year I am most looking forward to putting young people’s voices at the forefront of current and future youth employment policy development as well as meeting other young people from all walks of life through my role as Youth Employment UK ambassador and board member.
I would like to use my particular experiences as a young person attending university from a widening access background with experience of mental health challenges to ensure that Youth Employment UK’s work is as inclusive as possible to people from a diverse range of backgrounds with a diverse range of needs.
In a years’ time I see myself working in education and employment policy or research in the public sector, continuing to champion the voice of all young people in influencing policy which affects them
I will support Youth Employment UK’s work through contributing my experiences as a young person as well as my unique knowledge and skillset to ensure the precedent Youth Employment UK has already set, placing young people at the heart of all their work, continues.