Charities like ours don’t have a monopoly on solutions for issues facing disadvantaged vulnerable and excluded children and young people that are holding them back. Please don’t think that this website or this charity is only interested in hearing from you if you have been disadvantaged in some way. We welcome the input from any young person who has something to say, something to get off their chest, or someone who has an idea on what needs to change to make a difference. Please make use of our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email to get in touch. If you wish to make a more active contribution, by volunteering, sponsoring, or providing support in some other way, once again, we would be very pleased to hear from you. Actually, you may be a Commissioning Agency who wants to know more about the work that we do and our service provision to children and young people. My colleagues will be more than happy to help and provide information.
I will not be the only contributor to this blog, my colleagues here at SYP, our trustees, our partners and hopefully some of the young people that we assist, will make contributions over time. This will not be a blog to push any kind of ‘party line’; if you have an opinion do please share it, if you have an idea, however outlandish it may appear to be, please do share with us. The issues facing young people need more vigorous and high profile discussion.
So what are the issues? Well its not rocket science to say that the vast majority of young people want to be in a position quite early in their lives where they can get a job that interests them and that pays enough for them to get somewhere independent to live and to have a ‘life’ that doesn’t just consist of worrying about the future and about where the next pound is coming from. Despite the fact that this doesn’t always happen, and for some young people will never happen, it is a basic human right for everyone.
I am not so far from the age of 16 not to remember the family debates, discussions, thoughts and fears around what I was going to do with my life when I left school. I saw those same thoughts going through the heads of my children when the time came for them to leave school. I was lucky in knowing what I wanted to do in terms of a career at an early age, but my three children had no real idea of where their future as adults lay, and that was fine by me. Few know their own minds at 16 or 18, or into their early twenties. This should be a time of trying things out, exploring options, of considering different ways of moving forward and of an exciting anticipation of what may come. The challenge is to be in a position, financially and socially, where you have time to think these things over and decide on the future.
So how can Shaftesbury Young People assist in this process, for the young people that we interact with, guide, advise and help to educate? Going through the process of thinking out the future and considering the options is rarely effective if done alone and without guidance and advice. This is where we believe we can help. In addition, this is where any contributions from you to our discussions will greatly assist us in our thinking as we move forward. We think that providing more paths into vocational training, providing vocational training ourselves and intervening in various ways to assist young people with social mobility to access training, is where we should put our greatest focus and efforts.
The acquisition by young people of skills and qualifications by way of formalised training is the key to employment and longer term security. Again, this is not original thinking, just common sense. Gateways to such training are often through qualifications, gained at school, such as GCSEs, A Levels and BTECH. For a variety of reasons, many of the young people that we assist are not in a position to access these ‘normal’ entry routes into further training. If this is the area of greatest need among disadvantaged, vulnerable and excluded young people, then this is the area that Shaftesbury Young People need to intervene and actively help. Our trustee board and senior management team are working on how this can be delivered in the most practical and sustainable way. I would expect to see us offering far more pathways into FE and HE, skills training for young people, providing our own, limited initially, but expanding, range of vocational skills training and qualifications, more than likely via a remodelled Arethusa Venture Centre, developed as not only a centre for watersports and outdoor activities, but also a centre of excellence for marine operations and engineering training.
We know from our research that not all young people have a clear idea of how many careers are out there and available to them that do not require a University degree or even a College certificate of any kind as an entry level qualification. Career advice in the school system is often inadequate and for the more disadvantaged and excluded young people, often none existent. This gap in a young person’s knowledge, guidance and advice can and does have a profound impact on their lives. We at SYP intend to help to address this issue.
I would like to end by setting a small challenge to any young person reading this blog. Do a little research on the internet and find out how many separate careers are available in two Worldwide industries:
Don’t worry about the qualification level to enter any particular career path, just count the number of separate careers in each industry that you can find. Report how many you can identify, with their title, via our Facebook, or by e mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do that before 1st November 2016 and there will be a prize for the young person who finds the most and we will publish the result in one of our upcoming blogs. You will be very surprised at how long the two lists are.
Dr Bob Goldfield
Shaftesbury Young People