Fortem have launched a virtual work experience programme, in partnership with the North Derbyshire Careers Hub (D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership), to help tackle rising youth unemployment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The five-day virtual work experience (VWEX) programme prepares young people aged 14+ for the next steps of their career journey, raises aspirations and promotes inclusivity for all through the flexible delivery methods.
Fortem have developed a model which is easily adaptable and can be delivered online or offline, depending on the circumstances and needs of young people. Consisting of five modules; IT, innovation, customer care, design and planning, the programme helps young people identify transferable skills and how to put them into practice.
Since the start of COVID-19, the UK has seen a significant impact on 16-24-year-old unemployment. Comparing the latest quarter, September-November 2020, with the pre-pandemic quarter of January-March 2020, unemployment for young people has increased by 13%, and is set to rise with the impending pressures on the economy. 2020 saw the highest level of youth unemployment since 2016.
Findings from a YouGov poll for the Sutton Trust social mobility charity state that opportunities for young people to get experience of the workplace have also been impacted considerably by the COVID-19 crisis. Many firms who previously offered internships or work experience placements have cancelled them, with just over three fifths (61%) of employers surveyed cancelling some or all of their placements.
Leigh Garbutt, Head of Customer Experience at Fortem, said “At Fortem we don’t leave anyone behind so it was important that we created a virtual work experience programme that could be easily adapted to suit individual needs. We work closely with our clients and partners in the education sector to ensure that our offer is relevant and can really benefit our communities. Delivering people-focused opportunities like this are at the heart of Fortem’s culture and we are dedicated to continuing our commitment to supporting young people.”
The work experience programme not only gives students valuable work experience and an insight into the world of work, it also helps to achieve Gatsby Benchmark 6. Gatsby Benchmarks are a set of eight benchmarks that schools and colleges can use as a framework for improving their careers provision and is widely adopted as best practice. Read more about the benchmarks here.
Emily Carter, Enterprise Coordinator at North Derbyshire Careers Hub - D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said “It has been a privilege to work in partnership with Fortem on their exciting new virtual work experience offer. The flexibility in delivery of this programme will help to reduce barriers to engagement and promote transferable skills in an interactive way for young people.”
Following a successful pilot of the programme at Career Hub school, Springwell Community College in Chesterfield, a feedback survey found that 100% of students found the programme enjoyable and would recommend it to their friends and family, while 78% feel better informed about future opportunities within the industry. Fortem are refurbishing properties across Chesterfield as part of the council’s commitment to investing in its housing stock.
Councillor Amanda Serjeant, Deputy Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said, “Developing the skills young people have is vital to ensuring they can enter the workforce after they finish their education and is one of our key priorities as a local council. It’s brilliant to see partnerships like this forming and delivering meaningful outcomes for young people in Chesterfield. Our local labour clauses have helped ensure that all new development in Chesterfield has real employability benefits for the local community and this work experience programme is just one of many successful examples of this policy in action.”
For more information on the virtual work experience programme, please contact Rebecca Goodwin, Fortem’s Regional Customer and Community Manager, on Rebecca.Goodwin@fortem.co.uk.