The current economic environment is making it very tough for young people to combine their ethical values with an ethical career, often forcing them into employment which is unrelated to sustainability and climate change. Our experience shows us that young people and recent graduates often lack the demonstrable skills that employers are looking for and they rarely access networking and relationship building opportunities.
Our programme – Change Agents – was designed to break this cycle and boost the confidence of young people across the UK. The result will see a cohort of people motivated by sustainability and climate change better equipped for the world of work, and in a position to pursue a career in the sector. Change Agents was an ambitious programme to engage, support and encourage young people who were committed to creating positive change through their work and lifestyles. With funding from APE, Change Agents UK were able to develop and deliver a series of face to face workshops, online seminars (webinars) and learning opportunities for over 440 participants.
In total, 20 separate sessions were run between January and July 2012. Activities included work based skills training, “Skills of Change Agents” sessions being run at 6 locations, 6 webinars and 4 careers events. Each face to face session included the formulation of personal action plans where participants were encouraged to identify and commit to actions they needed to take to boost their employability and make themselves more employable. Feedback has been positive, for example, a CV Editing and Interview skills workshop achieved satisfaction levels of over 90% and attracted comments such as
"A great learning experience in a relaxed and patient and encouraging environment. I feel freshly motivated now” - CV and Interview skills workshop
The programme has received significant interest from participants and universities and Change Agents is now looking to roll both the Skills of a Change Agent programme and the careers talks to a greater audience. It would appear that with enhanced tuition fees and a greater focus on employability, the attributes and skills to create positive change are in high demand.
We have been asked to deliver many sessions at existing events, careers roadshows and conferences which has enabled us to avoid expensive venue hire and advertising costs. This has allowed us to use the APE funding directly to benefit participants with our expertise rather than food, travel and accommodation costs. By identifying a set of attributes needed for positive change we were able to talk to young people in a real and tangible way as to what they needed and how they could develop such competencies.
With the grant from APE, Change Agents UK have achieved a great deal in a short amount of time. Young people, students and graduates are committed to enhancing their employability and many see that sustainability is a great way to do just that. “Green jobs” are high on the agenda and the Change Agents programme has engaged and encouraged 100’s of young people to pursue them.
The outreach has also allowed us to promote and “cross sell” participants to our other programmes such as our graduate placement programme, Leonardo mobility placements and European Voluntary Service, a win:win for both participants and our organisation!