03 March 2014

Monday 3 March 2014

Today's blog comes from Rachael Bemrose, National Youth Partnerships Coordinator for Volunteer It Yourself (VIY).

Today marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week and in my role as National Youth Partnerships Coordinator for VIY I've seen firsthand the benefits that practical work experience and skills development can have to young people and their future career prospects. This week is a time to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on people, businesses and the economy. Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes, from leisure and tourism to horticulture and construction; the common thread being that individuals earn while  they learn, working for a real employer, earning a salary and gaining a qualification while getting valuable workplace skills and experience.

VIY has given our young volunteers the opportunity to not only give back to their local youth clubs and community centres, but also to learn invaluable skills in the construction trade and gain a City & Guilds qualification in the process.  For many the experience has sparked a fresh interest and helped them discover a talent in something new like painting and decorating, carpentry, tiling and plumbing. For some it has also helped them find an area that they are genuinely interested in pursuing as a career and shown them what they need to do to get onto a traineeship or apprenticeship. Many of those who have done VIY say that working alongside real tradespeople and getting work experience are the best parts of the project as it’s really helped them to enhance their CVs and progress onto other opportunities.

At a youth club in Bridgend in Wales, one of their members there called Shaun was unemployed and not feeling very motivated or confident about getting further training or qualifications before he started volunteering for VIY. While volunteering, he demonstrated a real aptitude for painting and decorating as well as working with and supporting younger members of his club to do the work. His City & Guilds assessor was very impressed with how he worked and said that he had really grown in confidence while volunteering at the club. He has since progressed on to a traineeship with the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of Wales.

In my job I’m responsible for getting new youth clubs and community centres involved in VIY. It is great to see how these community-led projects develop from the moment I speak to them about running a project through to so many local partners coming together to improve a building and work with a motivated group of young people. With each project the ‘unexpected outcomes’ are numerous and all brilliant! Of particular importance is the role everyone involved plays in supporting young people into further training and employment. Key to this is that there are opportunities available for young people like those who’ve done VIY and are really keen to continue learning and want to work; access to traineeships and apprenticeships that are local to young people are vital in supporting them into work.

Have a great National Apprenticeship Week – we’ll be posting more about it here and on twitter throughout the week. Make sure you follow @VIYproject @LondonYouth to keep up to date with all new developments.