Last week #AskEddie was all over the news. This was the story of a 15-year-old work experience guy who took over Southern Rail’s Twitter feed in the relative quiet of an early afternoon and told followers he was available to answer questions.

Dozens of people took up Eddie’s offer and duly asked him questions – whether they should have Thai green curry or chicken fajitas for dinner, whether he would rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses and so on.

Within an hour he was trending on Twitter and within 24 hours he was all over the news. Much of the reaction was surprise: surprise that a 15 year old was allowed to take over Southern Rail’s Twitter feed; that Eddie came up with refreshing, original and witty answers; and that this employer – who hasn’t always generated the most favourable publicity – could get things so right.

Many of us that work with young people, linking them up with employers and giving them a taste of the workplace, weren’t surprised that Eddie made the most of the opportunity. Over the last three years London Youth has been promoting the multiple benefits of 21st century work experience opportunities, both in terms of introducing young people to the world of work and encouraging employers to reach out and promote their businesses to future employees. Too many young people are still missing out on opportunities to fulfil their ambitions, and face a number of challenges in finding a job that’s right for them.

Through the Big Lottery funded Talent Match programme, London Youth has worked with nearly 1,000 employers on engaging their future workforce. And on National Employability Day (Friday 14 July) in partnership with Youth Employment UK we launched the new Talent Match Mark across England.

This multi-level national award scheme will recognise and celebrate outstanding employers that support young people like Eddie throughout their journey to work.

The Talent Match Mark will:

  1. provide recognition for employers that create opportunities for young people
  2. link employers up into a new network of like-minded organisations
  3. develop employees in Talent Match Mark businesses through their support for young people taking part
  4. facilitate real social mobility
  5. improve staff retention and employee engagement.

And if Eddie and Southern Rail can make it work then thousands of other young people and organisations can too. The Talent Match Mark will give employers the recognition they deserve and help more young people into fulfilling careers.

For more information go to www.talentmatchmark.com

Gareth Price, Head of Development, London Youth