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Local leaders urge businesses to become ‘Be The Future’ employers

Published: Monday, 4th April 2022

Local leaders urge businesses to become ‘Be The Future’ employers

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, alongside local partners are urging businesses across the city to consider offering work-based (paid or unpaid) opportunities to young people that are currently in or have left the care of the council and young people furthest from employment.

A group of council senior leaders and members of the business community including the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Careers Hub came together in the summer of 2021 to form a Stoke-on-Trent opportunities taskforce group to lobby for more work opportunities for care-experienced young people.

Today (Monday, April 4) they have launched the Be The Future pledge. By signing this pledge, businesses agree to help young people take the first step into the world of work and help young people in Stoke-on-Trent to thrive, succeed and be the most they can be. They will commit to offering at least one targeted opportunity per 12-month period, specifically to support a young person in Stoke-on-Trent in their early working life. This could be an:

  • Apprenticeship
  • Part-time or full-time job
  • Traineeship
  • Structured work experience
  • Mentoring young people to enter the workplace

Councillor Dave Evans, chair of the group and cabinet member for children and young people said: “As a city we believe there is more we can do to promote employment, education and training (EET) for our care-experienced young people and we are working with partners to achieve this. Currently only half of our care-experienced young people are currently accessing any kind of EET provision. It is our goal to change this, and quickly.

“As a corporate parent the council will work to support our young people to ensure they can work with businesses to make the most out of any opportunity they provide. By providing pastoral support as any parent would, we believe this will allow our young people to flourish in any environment and be an asset to local organisations. Supporting vulnerable children is our number one priority.”

Local businesses are being asked to consider how their company can help the council to support care leavers. There are many complicated factors affecting the achievement and attainment of care leavers but often it isn’t their qualifications, or willingness and enthusiasm to work. It is the role of local organisations and employers to go above and beyond to reduce the barriers to work.

Sara Williams, Chief Executive at Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said: “Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce believes that every young person will contribute to the business community. Businesses can help young people to decide what they do, or don’t, want to do for a job and career by offering work placements or traineeships. Offering these to the young people in care will help them with new life chances, new opportunities and experiences - giving them the chances that we may take for granted. I urge businesses to sign up and offer support to this partnership initiative.”

Anne Boyd, Chief Executive at Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: “Be The Future is a great initiative that will not only help young people to get a head start in their career, but also help businesses to future-proof by bringing talent into the workforce that can offer new ideas and opportunities.”

Employers that are interested in becoming a Be The Future employer should visit www.stoke.gov.uk/bethefuture or email WorkplaceOpportunities@stoke.gov.uk