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.
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 they want the information to be offered to them.
Meet the Youth Ambassador Board
Patrick Cantellow, Chair of the Youth Board
Deuvaunn Darroux, Policy Officer
Hi, I’m Deuvaunn! As a young person I have seen and experienced the inequalities when it comes to youth employment. I believe that it is up to young people to fight for better opportunities alongside the adults.
I have always been a passionate believer in the needs of young people, especially with regards to opportunities for employment and education. Shirley Chisholm was quoted as saying, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” This resonates with me every time I set out to work on a project, or even just attend an event or meeting that directly affects young people like myself. That very quote is my guide as I advocate for better opportunities for young people.
I aim to be a leading light for my peers as we push for better opportunities and I am immensely honoured to have been appointed as the Policy Officer for the Youth Employment UK Ambassador Board.
George Greaves, Employer Engagement Officer
Harvey Morton, Member
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.
Priscilla Joseph, Member
My name is Priscilla Joseph and I am 22 years old and I live in Colchester. I graduated with a History degree from the University of Essex in July 2019. Currently I am in the process of looking for work in the police force as my dream is to become an intelligence analyst for the Metropolitan Police. I enjoy learning new things and I am currently learning Japanese, working through an Excel course and doing a CPD accredited course in criminal procedures. I also like to be involved in helping others and that is why I decided to become a youth ambassador.
I became an ambassador in November 2019, after coming across the website online whilst looking for ways to develop my teamwork skills. After I joined a project was launched to create a series of workshops and talks so that more young people could find out about the young professional. As project leader, I was responsible for helping the other ambassadors with their sections. This helped me to develop my leadership, teamwork and communication skills. It was a bit daunting because I had never really led a project before and so I had no idea what I was doing. However, you never know what you can do until you try it.
This is why I decided to join the ambassador board. I was pretty shocked when I was accepted but at the same time thrilled that I would now be able to do even more to help others.
It is so important that young people are given chances in life because they can do wonderful things with the right support. The important thing is knowing where to get it. That is why I am pleased to be working with Youth Employment UK because they are all about giving young people that support.
To anyone thinking about joining up, do it. You won’t regret it because you can not only help yourself but also other people. The main thing is for us all to try our best or as it is said in Japanese: みんあ さん がんば! Minna-san ganbare! Everyone do your best!
Ciara O’Donnell, Member
Hi everyone, I’m Ciara!
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.