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13 May 2015

Wednesday 13 May 2015

By Rich Straker

Talent Match London is committed to sharing best practice within our own partnership, but we also know it is very important to learn from the wider sector and be aware of new initiatives. To put this ethos into practice, I travelled with my colleagues to Ipswich to visit the MyGo centre, the first all-inclusive youth employability centre

The MyGo centre is for 16-24 year olds living in the Ipswich area, who wants help finding work, advice on how to progress in their career, guidance on accessing training, mentoring and support. The centre runs two services, self-service and coaching service.

The self service is for young people who only need a little bit of support and guidance to move quickly into work or training. The young person will have access to any of the MyGo services and have a named contact at the MyGo centre who reviews progress. The coaching service is for young people who need some extra support, guidance, or skills development, to get them ready for work or training. The young person meets regularly with a MyGo coach who will support them to organise activities such as CV workshops, soft skills workshops and work with other agencies and employers (including employability programmes) to help the young person. They also have the advisors from the job centre working full time at the MyGo centre.

I think the concept of MyGo is very good. Everything a young person needs to achieve is under one roof, including workshops they can attend and work experience opportunities. This is good because once the young person is in the centre they have an array of activities they can do. Once finishing one activity, there is always an activity going on. It caters for all young people whatever stage of their journey into work they are at.

One thing that I was impressed by, was the fact that the Job Centre advisors who work full time in the MyGo centre wear a MyGo uniform, rather than distinguishing themselves as something separate. Young people going to the job centre may have negative attitudes based on previous experiences of JCP, but going into the MyGo centre you would not realise that the advisors are from the job centre. I believe this breaks down the negative barriers between young people and the job centre and helps.

I was also impressed by the centre’s setting. It was a large space with comfy chairs, and top of the range computers. The spacious and comfortable surrounding encourages the young people to take part in the various activities. The opportunity to relax and go at their own pace definitely helps the young person stay engaged.  The one thing I wasn’t too sure about was the fact that the young person can use the centre as a social entity. They are allowed to come in and use the computers for Facebook, YouTube etc. without taking part in any activity. I believe that once the young person is in the centre they should be doing some sort of activity to help their journey back to work as well as using social media, but I guess we can wait and see whether this acts as a transition to getting them interested in employment related activities.

I think there is a lot of learning we can take from the Centre and implement in London, in particular, service all coming together, and job centre advisors being part of this, so all the services a young person needs under one roof and they don’t have to try and navigate multiple agencies all offering different things. We are also keen to make sure we effectively share learning the other way around too, so they can learn rom what is going well, or what is not, on Talent Match London. Our learning so far on youth leadership can how to get young people engaged at all stages, is something we are proud of at London Youth. We would be very happy to support MyGo develop youth leadership in their centre and we have fantastic youth board members ready to share their experiences and advise!

We are already taking the learning from the visit and embedding it into our TML programme to make sure the young people are getting the best provision possible, and we look forward to seeing what more can be done in the future.