Why apprenticeships matter at ThinkForward

As part of our mission to equip young people with the skills they need to make a successful transition into employment, we have created our own ThinkForward youth support apprenticeship and currently employ four young people from our programme in the role.

Youth support apprentices work alongside coaches at each ThinkForward school providing peer-to-peer mentoring support to other young people. This involves helping them access work experience and volunteering placements, matching them with employee mentors in our partner businesses, or encouraging them to get involved with community action projects.

Apprentices also coordinate monthly job clubs where those seeking work can meet other young people and access employability skills training.

ThinkForward youth support apprentices naturally add value by serving as role models, raising awareness about the programme and helping other young people to get involved.

As a charity committed to preventing young people from becoming NEET and enabling them to  realise their full potential, our apprenticeship programme brings significant benefits to the young people in these positions, our organisation as a whole and wider society in general. For example, the Centre for Economics and Business Research has estimated that when done right, apprenticeships can bring immense value, generating up to £34bn for the economy each year.

Having been through similar experiences themselves, youth support apprentices complement the work of the Coaches by helping them to earn the trust of the young people they support, which in turn increases engagement with those who are hardest to reach.

In addition to working on the frontline with Coaches in schools and the community, all ThinkForward apprentices are studying for business administration qualifications one day a week. This is part of the work-based learning opportunities that apprenticeships provide and all four apprentices have become fully integrated into ThinkForward’s operational working on a day-to-day basis and are relied upon by progression coaches and ThinkForward staff to provide the administrative support when needed.

If you are a business leader or employer that would like to take on a ThinkForward young person as an apprentice, contact Susannah. (Business Engagement Manager)

ThinkForward’s social impact bond recognised in Prime Minister’s speech

In the Prime Minister’s recent speech ‘My vision for a Smarter State’, the success of ThinkForward’s social impact bond was highlighted as an example of the positive results that can be achieved via this social investment model.

Noting the success of ThinkForward’s pilot across five schools in Tower Hamlets, which saw a NEET rate reduction of 88% among 320 young people identified as being most at risk, he said:

“Another big step forwards has been our pioneering use of interventions like Social Impact Bonds, which pay private and voluntary sector organisations with some of the savings they deliver to the taxpayer. Take, for example, the Social Impact Bond supporting ThinkForward – a charity that places highly qualified ‘super coaches’ in schools where they identify and work with young people most at risk of not getting into work. In Tower Hamlets, this has reduced the NEET rate amongst some of the most at risk pupils by 88%, saving over £40,000 per pupil.”

Building on the success of ThinkForward’s SIB, he went on to infer that the investment model could be taken to scale nationally and applied to other areas in need of intervention.

Government promise to cut youth unemployment by 15 percent must include most disengaged

ThinkForward welcomes the government’s commitment to cut youth unemployment by 15 percent in the next 10 years. As part of this strategy particular attention must be paid to supporting young people who are most disengaged.

We also welcome the news that employment minister, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, will sign a pledge at the G20 meeting in Turkey as part of international efforts to cut youth unemployment globally.

As a youth charity focused on supporting young people at high risk of becoming NEET, we have developed a model based on early intervention, where super coaches provide five years of intensive support to increase a young person’s chances of making a successful transition from education into employment.

At age 18 young people leave ThinkForward’s programme equipped with competencies identified by employers as being essential for workplace success. This is achieved through our work readiness programme – a key component of our support package, delivered in stages through our Coaches based in schools and the community. Through this approach our young people enter the workplace with the capabilities that most employers need.

Due to our focus on those at highest risk of becoming NEET, we believe that it is vital to engage those that are ‘most disengaged’. ThinkForward builds links with employers and community organisations, through its dedicated business engagement arm – WorkForward. Young people on the programme are exposed to opportunities in the form of jobs, apprenticeships and out of school activities. This goes a long way in helping them develop the skills and experiences they need to secure employment in the long term or go on to higher education.

While we recognise that careers advice for non-graduates in this country is lacking, even if this gap is filled, we do not believe that careers advice on its own is sufficient to help these young people succeed. ThinkForward’s approach of providing five years of intensive coaching to young people from age 13, offers a long term and sustainable solution, since as well as improving educational attainment which is the foundation for success, our coaches support the young person across all aspects of their lives, broaden their horizons and look out for their emotional well-being.

It is all these ingredients combined which allow them to unlock their potential and become economically active and well-rounded citizens of society.