Careers was the topic of discussion at Project B on April 19th, after the topic of March’s forum changed from careers to knife crime.
This change probably worked out for the better, as on Tuesday we were joined by two representatives from Croydon Council. Roopa Doshi and Melad Ali, their Team Apprentice, work to ensure that young people, aged 14-19, do not end up as NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). They are responsible for tracking young people and finding out what it is that they are doing.
We also had the pleasure of being joined by Denise Hill from Evolve Housing, which was previously South London YMCA. Evolve Housing provides hostels for young, homeless individuals, and also supports young people who have been homeless by trying to help them to move on.
This month, I gave Roopa and Melad the opportunity to lead out in the forum, as they are looking for ways to support young people with their limited resources, which resulted in responses that were beneficial to both them and Young People Insight going forward.
When asked about what career advice was like for us at school, college, university etc, it became clear that it was “pretty poor”, as Alana said. We either weren’t aware of where to go for career advice, it wasn’t given to us or it simply didn’t work for us. Alana believes that “as I didn’t have guidance, I jumped through multiple courses and careers.”
However, as Javell later added, “there are many young people who bounce off each other”, which is I am personally a strong advocate of. Young people have the ability to work together to create something great, if only more of them would take the time to do it. “If you can’t find a job, create one yourself,” he says.
As we spoke about whether we found our teachers supportive, Andrae brought it to another level, expressing that what was at school wasn’t really what he wanted to do. He also said, “In my era, it’s like everything happened after… I got too old,” which is a thought that has probably crossed the mind minds of many young people in their mid to late 20s — I know it’s crossed mine.
When Roopa asked how important a career is over just being employed, Andrae’s immediate response was, “A career is about being happy. Employment is about getting money.” However, Alana took what Andrae said further, saying that neither matter, because the most important thing is happiness — “There’s no point getting a job if your feel like you’re not going to get anything from it.”
This question also led on to the subject of our working lives in the long-term. Javell thinks that employment is the only option in regards to short-term gain, but he also stressed that young people think in short-term rather than long-term, which isn’t exactly effective for paving out a career.
As we spoke more about careers advice, we all agreed that there was a problem with how our educational options or opportunities were presented to us. We all said that were made to believe that we had to sit our A-levels and then attend university in order to get a “good” job.
Melad shared his personal experience, telling us that he started A-levels, as he didn’t know that he had the option of doing a BTEC, but he then went on to do a BTEC and got into university to study Sociology. Nevertheless, he left university after two years — rather than get himself into an extra year’s worth of debt — and started an apprenticeship with the council.
To round the discussion off, we tried to come up with effective ways to reach young people, particularly with a limited budget and limited resources. Ideas included:
- Creating a documentary, which would involve speaking to those who are NEET
- Having young people putting on a careers fair for young people
- Putting on events to reach those who are NEET
- Talking face-to-face
- Effectively utilising what you’ve already got.
Denise also said, “Try and focus on the people that you do manage to engage with and what difference you can make to them.”
I believe that a career is special and so much more than employment, as it is work that you are building upon for the long run and hopefully something that makes you happy. It just takes thought, time and some help along the way. As Alana says, “If you’ve got the confidence, you can do anything.”