BT digital scheme helps young unemployed Londoners get ‘work ready’

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

A group of young people in London have learned vital digital skills and coaching to land jobs, as part of a BT scheme that has already helped more than 3,000 unemployed young adults. 

A celebration event was held on 25 September at the BT Sport Production Hub in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to mark the graduation of 45 people who took part in an 11-day BT Work Ready Programme. 

Labour peer, Lord Tony Young attended to present certificates to the graduates. The participants, all aged between 18 and 24, have received training and work experience with the telecoms firm to help them in their future careers.

BT scheme 

BT’s Work Ready programme, in partnership with charity Movement to Work (MtW), is helping thousands of young people not in education, employment or training across the UK. The programme equips them with vital skills and work experience for a career in an increasingly digital world.

Fabian Douglas (main picture), 21, from Bromley, said he had struggled to find a job since 2017 but was feeling more optimistic after taking part in the programme.

“The BT Work Ready programme has been great and I already feel so much more confident”, Douglas said. 

“I’ve gained tips on how to create a great CV, learned how to cope with the pressure of a job interview and developed lots of new skills which I’ve now updated on my LinkedIN profile. 

BT learning: 45 students graduated from the telecom firm's digital skills programme

“Being unemployed over the past couple years has been difficult, but this opportunity at BT has given me a clearer understanding of what I want to do.

“The work experience placement was brilliant and I’m really grateful to the BT staff who helped me get a taste of what it’s like working in a digital role for the company. It’s also opened my eyes to the opportunities available.”

First steps

Mat Sears, corporate affairs director for BT’s Consumer division, who presented certificates alongside Lord Young at the event, said: “I’d like to say a huge congratulations to all these young people who have taken the first steps towards their future careers.

“Nothing can imitate a real working environment so that is exactly what this programme sets out to achieve. 

“The workplace is changing and nearly all jobs in the future will require at least an element of digital skills, so it’s vital that we equip the next generation with the tools and knowledge they need to be able to thrive.”

The work placements are part of a national pilot of the Government-led Transition to Work project which aims to support unemployed young people into work.

Youth unemployment  

Youth unemployment remains a challenge in the UK, BT said. The national youth unemployment rate was 11.4% in May-July 2019, compared with 3.8% for the whole population. 

In London, 13.3% (121,000) of young people aged 16-24 are currently Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) according to latest figures. 

3,000 graduates

Since BT launched its Work Ready programme in 2014, around 3,000 young people have graduated from the scheme. More people took part than ever before during 2018 with 982 starting the programme and 77% of those completing it.

The Movement to Work charity focusses mainly on young people who are NEET. More than 50% of those who have completed a placement have gone into employment or back into education.

James Ashall, Movement to Work chief executive, said: “Congratulations to all the young people who have graduated from the BT Work Ready programme and we wish them all the best in their future careers.

“Brilliant employability programmes help businesses build a workforce that represent the communities in which they operate. This ultimately drives diversity, promotes social mobility and, crucially, supports individuals to fulfill their potential.”

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