Last month I attended my first event as a Youth Ambassador in Bury, Lancashire, where we were promoting the Youth Ambassador and Young Professional Programmes to two different age groups. This was a new experience as I had never promoted a cause before. Not only did this help to build my communication skills through talking to new people but it also meant that I was able to see and understand many of the barriers to employment that young people are facing. By talking to different groups of young people between the ages of 14 and 24 I was able to engage with many of causes of unemployment within my generation, giving me an understanding of my own employment needs and those of others.
Bury is located in the North West of England and has a higher than average unemployment rate. This meant that promoting employment for young people in the area is important because it is a step towards tackling the larger issue. Although tackling adult employment is essential, we also need to eradicate the grassroots problems, including a lack of confidence and communication in young people. I believe that in order to make a lasting impact it is essential to look to younger generations who will one day be our future.
In the first session we promoted Youth Employment UK to unemployed young people aged 20-24 and tried to interest them in the Youth Ambassador and the Young Professional Programmes. I found this the most interesting and rewarding part of the day because it allowed me to connect with people who need immediate help in employment. This taught me that one of the most important issues in youth employment is a lack of self belief. With help in the right areas through training and empowerment many young people may be able to become much more employable through a basic understanding of their own strengths and the ability to promote these to employers.
I believe that in order to help young people to become employed we need to ensure that they have self belief. The event itself helped to give me more confidence in talking to others and thus I learnt that that making the first small step is vital because it allows your skills to grow and grow. Although this first step is the most difficult to make, this means that it is the most important to promote because it will lead to much more over time.
In the second session we promoted the programmes to a younger age bracket, talking to year 10 and year 11 age children and trying to push the importance of gaining employability skills at a young age. Here I noticed the lack of interest in the younger children compared to their parents and I enjoyed the challenge of trying to engage them.
With a younger age group I therefore learnt that we need to take a different approach: confidence here is less of an issue, but motivation for the future remains a problem. In an increasingly competitive world it is essential to begin building skills at an earlier age so that young people have a foundation to work with when applying for jobs and opportunities.
The day was beneficial for me because I was also able to improve my self confidence and I felt that I gained important skills in talking to new people and promoting a cause that I believe strongly in. Not only did it inspire me to do more work within this sector, but also interacting with young people meant that I learnt about the real life issues that people face. It taught me the importance of reaching out to different target groups in different ways and also inspired me to take action as I was able to understand on a deeper level the issues that people face. In addition it also provided me with a renewed confidence to talk to people, giving me the tools to make the change that I believe is so important within our society.
This article was written by Lucy Clay, one of our Youth Ambassadors. Lucy are up in Burnley, Lancashire and is currently reading Geography at Oxford University. Lucy is passionate about making a difference to the lives of other, helping to combat the issues young people face in finding work and supporting the next generation to not only have more opportunities, but also to make the most of them and stop the problems of unemployment at the grassroots.