Jemma Redden, Head of Marketing and Communications, shares her experience of starting a social enterprise that aims to encourage businesses to employ young people…
How did Access Generation CIC begin?
Chris and I had previously worked together in the corporate world and had kept in touch. We both had an interest in supporting young people into work for different reasons. So when Chris shared his idea about creating a social enterprise that would bridge the gap between work and education I knew instantly I wanted to get involved.
We quickly established our main purpose – to encourage businesses to employ inexperienced young people by providing free practical guidance online.
What have you found challenging?
When we started out I had assumed that businesses would be open to employing young people but I have been surprised at how reluctant some businesses have been. I have heard a lot of misconception and assumptions from businesses who have never employed young people and have an instant negative perception on young people in the workplace. So, we had a challenge to educate businesses to the contrary. Where there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity.
As a social enterprise that acts as the bridge between business and the initiatives working with young people, we knew we needed empirical information to be have a meaningful conversation to engage businesses. And this is where the youth employment accessibility research was born.
What have you found rewarding?
Someone called us ‘advocates for young people’ recently and I thought that was a great way to summarise what we do. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is that we get to listen to young people’s experiences and expectations and pass those messages on to business. This is the foundation for our research.
This month marked our first anniversary and we got to celebrate in the most spectacular way. Our research project formed part of the award submission that saw Talent Match Leicester take home the Education and Business Partnership Award at the East Midlands Chambers event.
Both Chris and I felt privileged to be apart of the celebrations and to know that our research project was included in the submission to win the award was wonderful.
What’s next for Access Generation?
We are now continuing to work with Talent Match Leicester to extend our research project. We will be working alongside three young people to assess up to 200 companies from three specific sectors: manufacturing and engineering, food and drink and logistics. We will be sharing more on this project and will be introducing the team next month.
As we share the results of the initial research with businesses, we will be offering support to help those businesses change their recruitment processes to reflect the expectations of young people (look out for news on our seminar and webinar coming soon).
We are also continuing to work with our sponsors, Vacancy Filler, and will be supporting them to deliver a presentation at the national CIPD Conference in Manchester in November.
I cannot talk about our first year without saying a big thank you to all of the individuals and businesses that have supported us along the way. We have been given to some invaluable advice, introductions and support that has helped us make it to our first year anniversary.
Here’s to another year engaging with businesses and helping break down those barriers to employment at the first hurdle – the online recruitment process!