Career Ready – empowering Scotland’s young, undiscovered talent

Career Ready – empowering Scotland’s young, undiscovered talent

The pandemic has hit young people the hardest in terms of unemployment and economic inactivity, with UK youth employment rates at a near-record low.

The CIPD’s One Million Chances campaign aims to create a million opportunities for young people, and we’re  encouraging employers to look at different ways to help young people to find meaningful work - which in turn will help employers to find new talent pipelines.

CIPD member Anne Wexelstein, who heads up Career Ready in Scotland, tells us about how their successful programme of workplace mentoring, combined with a paid internship for students in S5/S6, can change young lives, and how you can get involved in Career Ready for the benefit of young people, your people and your organisation. 

At Career Ready, our vision is that every young person progresses to a positive post-school destination and is able to prosper in the world of work. This is more difficult for some depending on their socio-economic-cultural background, and this is why employer organisations partner with us in our programme of a mentor combined with a paid 4-week summer internship focused on school students S5/S6, which organisations benefit from too. 98% of Career Ready programme graduates progress to positive, sustained post-school destinations in work or education. To have welcomed a further 800 S5 school students into our programme in November 2021 in the midst of the pandemic is incredible - and we can’t stop there. We know more young people need the Career Ready opportunity.

We partner with 300+ organisations spanning a wide range of sizes and sectors across Scotland.

Matt and his mentor Alastair, from Diageo

Matt joined the Career Ready programme in 2017, as an S5 student from Inverkeithing High School. While on the programme he not only enjoyed a brilliant relationship with his mentor, Alastair, but he also benefitted greatly from his 4-week paid internship with Diageo.

Matt said about his experience: “It brought a new me out, with my new mentor by my side guiding me along it helped so much just to know someone was there for me, the whole experience was oddly magical and it opened up many different doors to me such as confidence within myself which before I could never find.

Alastair was unbelievable, he was one of the nicest people ever and I'm now glad to call him a friend. He has supported me through the whole programme, especially when I’ve found things difficult. I’m now enjoying a 3-year modern apprenticeship with Diageo. This programme has changed my life, giving me an amazing mentor and an amazing place to work and I'm glad to say I'm now a little part of Diageo's family.” 

Amber and her mentor Kelly, from Taylor Roofs 

Amber from Whitburn Academy has been mentored by Kelly Taylor of Taylor Roofs in West Lothian since November 2021. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know my mentor and building a relationship with her,” says Amber. “I feel comfortable speaking to her about anything, particularly my worries about going forward into the world of work. My mentor has been extremely supportive and because of her I had the confidence to apply for college.” 

“Amber has started to make real progress, in terms of improving her confidence and communication skills,” says Kelly. As a smaller organisation, Taylor Roofing has benefitted from Career Ready’s internship funding campaign. Kelly says: “This funding will support our business in providing Amber with her internship opportunity to learn new skills that she will be able to utilise as she progresses into the world of work.” 

Real benefits for organisations 

The benefits of the Career Ready programme to organisations are tangible.

Impact data from Career Ready’s 600+ largely virtual summer 2021 internships showed that 83% of our partner organisations wished to hire their intern if the opportunity was available, having experienced the value they added through filling a skills gap or bringing a fresh perspective.

Aayush Goyal, Co-Founder of social enterprise Social Stories Club, shares his Career Ready experience:

“To mentor someone who is at a stage where they are exploring their interests, hobbies, university options, career options, and just navigating the challenges of the unknown is very rewarding.

Career Ready have done a fantastic job of pairing me with someone who is keen to go down the adventurous route of starting their own business. I went into this experience expecting to give my knowledge and help someone else and I didn’t expect to learn so much from the experience myself.”

As explained by John Stewart, Director of HR at SSE and Chair of Career Ready’s Scotland Board, “Career Ready is a great social mobility charity, which helps young people who wouldn’t normally have access to a mentor and the world of work. The impact of the programme speaks for itself with 98% of participants moving to positive destinations. The programme relies on employer supporters and mentors. As a programme that leaves a real and lasting legacy, I can’t recommend it enough.” 

Hear more Career Ready graduate experiences

Hear three further Career Ready students sharing their powerful stories in these short videos:

However big or small your organisation, if you are interested in exploring a partnership with Career Ready contact, or to find out how you can get involved.

Career Ready may be able to provide SMEs or third sector organisations with funding support for the paid summer internships.

CIPD – One Million Chances

The most recent additions to our One Million Chances campaign resources include guides on recruiting young people facing disadvantage and another which gives insights into keeping disadvantaged young people in work, and best practice recommendations for running an internship programme.