fbpx Employability Day 2020 | Q&A with Emmanuel, Physiotherapist and Youth Worker at The Somerville - London Youth

26 June 2020

Could you tell us a bit about the work that you do?
I have always been interested in sport, I used to play football at a semi-professional level. That really motivated me to then become a physiotherapist working within sport. So right now, I work within a sport’s medical clinic within central London and I run my own clinical practice treating athletes; boxers, climbers, marathon runners, I try to treat an array of sporting individuals from different backgrounds. 

Running my own business allows the flexibility for me to engage in youth work at The Somerville in Peckham. This is an important part of my overall commitment to help young people. I know what it feels like to attend a youth club and have someone there to support you, which is why I do the work I do at the Somerville. For me, it’s quite powerful that the young people at the club are in contact with someone who does physiotherapy, considering we all love sport so much, it’s good for them to see it as a career option.  

What would you say some of the biggest challenges are facing young people entering employment today?
I think entering employment is particularly difficult and very different today considering the pandemic, it’s obviously affected the way we live and work. I would really promote and encourage our young people to start thinking digitally and outside the box. I think it’s a really important time for them as digital natives. They can take on an important role in the future. However, I think the challenges we will find our young people face is that they will require remote support. At the moment, not being able to speak to mentors face-to-face is difficult for a lot young people. The need for intrinsic motivation will also be important and I think that will be a big challenge, ensuring you’re staying motivated and disciplined with your tasks will be something that allows certain individuals to thrive. Lastly, I believe that the challenges can always be made into positives. For example, being able to work from home can allow more flexibility and potentially more productivity and creativity because you’re comfortable in your location. We don’t always have to see challenges as obstacles, we can overcome them.  

Have there been any changes to the type of career your young people want to get into after lockdown?
Our young people have been committed to the careers they want to enter, from pilots to physios, they’ve stayed pretty consistent. As youth workers we’ve been trying to discuss other options, specifically digital. It could still change but our young people, in fact all of us, are hoping that life goes back to how it was pre-COVID.  

How is your organisation helping to support young people through challenges at this time?
Currently we host a Zoom meeting with the young people every Wednesday afternoon where we touch base on wellbeing and possible job opportunities. The head of Job Club joins us and helps young people apply for a range of different roles. We are also planning to do an online job fair in the next few weeks, allowing for people from all different job backgrounds to come together and discuss their personal navigation into their career. I’ve always encouraged people to come and visit the Somerville but it’s so much easier now as you don’t have to travel, people can just go online from their home for 30 minutes. 

The Black Lives Matter movement is at the forefront of all of our minds just now; what would you say employers could do to tackle racism? 
We need fundamental structural changes within the way we look at our hierarchy. The biggest problem historically is that we have had a civil rights movement, basically an uprising, which influences short term agendas, but we need to think of a long-term approach. How we can influence long term change? From a top down approach, meaning we can minimise implicit bias. When you do this you get a more diverse, open workplace. From my experience, having managers who are from varied backgrounds is really important. Allowing for diverse work experience, but then that work experience needs to be bolstered with a career progression pathway and things like a presentation of how a CEO or director got into their position. If we can start to educate people who want to get to the higher positions how to get there, we can then be more transparent. But for me, it needs to be a top down first approach. Changing how your hierarchy is balanced to reflect the population. 

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