GMYN works with disadvantaged young people, supporting them to achieve their potential; these are their ten top tips with a difference.

GMYN works with disadvantaged young people, supporting them to achieve their potential; these are their ten top tips with a difference.

25th August 2022, 4:09 pm

Greater Manchester Youth Network (GMYN) is a registered youth charity that works to improve the lives of many disadvantaged young people. We deliver bespoke projects and support some of the most vulnerable young people facing significant barriers.

These young people are often socially excluded, lack confidence and aspiration or have little support from elsewhere. This includes supporting young people with disabilities, young people who are in care or have left care, unemployed young people as well as many others who are vulnerable for different reasons.

One area where we support young people is in employability and related skills, and recently a group of our young people have been working on an employability project. They said:

“We want employers to think more about what it’s like for a young person who is struggling to find work.

“Our hope is that in getting our voice heard by employers, they will start to make changes that will give encouragement to young people who are looking to start work.”

They have looked at what the most common barriers and obstacles that young people face and the ways in which they think there could be improvements and positive changes.

  1. Look beyond academic qualifications – School can be difficult for many young people, for a variety of reasons and young people we work with have found that often employers expect level of education or qualifications that some young people struggle to attain. They feel that employers don’t always consider the reasons behind this; being a young person in care, or neurodivergent, or from a chaotic home just some of the circumstances that can create barriers.


“You can be a great employee with a strong character but lack academic skills that aren’t even needed in the job. A good character can indicate someone that is willing to learn the skills they don’t have, but poor character can be difficult for the entire team.”


What they would like to see is more employers open to considering people’s character, their ability and willingness to do the job, and whether general qualifications are in fact necessary for certain roles. They’d also like to see employers consider whether they could offer or signpost training programmes that can help young people find employment.


  1. Offer advice – in order to help prepare for work, it’s vitally important that young people understand the skills that businesses need, to help make the transition from education. Many young people have little idea of the range and scope of jobs that might be open to them, or the pathways they could open up. The young people we work with would like to see more businesses offering careers advice and mentoring, whether through schools and colleges or through organisations like GMYN.


  1. Provide experience – Many of the young people we work with are looking for entry level roles; however, they have found that roles advertised as ‘Entry level’ often require previous work experience. Not only does this mean that their applications won’t get looked at, but would often deter them from applying in the first place. The young people in this group would like employers to reassess whether roles are truly ‘Entry level’ when they are advertised, or consider working with organisations like GMYN to offer work experience to young people.


  1. Be understanding of neurodivergence Neurodiversity refers to the idea that everyone’s brain works differently. Neurotypical refers to someone who has the brain functions, behaviours, or processing that is considered standard or typical. Neurodivergence is the term for people whose brains function differently to what is considered standard or typical. While this can affect young people’s education – the format of exams or certain types of assessments don’t always cater for different ways of processing information – it can also affect young people’s approach to job-seeking. Our young people would like to see employers become more aware of these issues, and make provision and suitable adjustments where possible, such as the option of video application, or being able to have an informal chat before applying.


  1. Communicate clearly The group have said it’s really encouraging to hear from employers about the status of their application or some acknowledgement that it has been received, and then later, whether they have been successful or not. “You can be waiting forever and not hear anything about your application. That just adds to the anxiety.” Employers could help by providing a little more communication with the young people at each stage and feedback will really help them learn and improve for the next time. “The process feels disorientating and frustrating. We want people to know that.”


  1. Be aware that your nth interview could be their first Interviews can be overwhelming for young people, especially if they have never experienced one before. Employers can help with this by providing as much information and guidance; be clear if there is a dress code, consider sending interview questions in advance, let young people know what they can expect. Creating a comfortable environment can also help young people feel able to ask questions and be themselves. “We want people to know how difficult it is for young people to get into work.”


  1. Allow time for training and learning Starting at a workplace can be just as daunting as the interview and application process. Our young people have said that there is an unwritten expectation that they should just know what to do when entering into a new job and there often isn’t much support for this in the early stages. Young people would like employers to consider different learning styles and whether information shared at induction could be presented differently. Being flexible and able to adjust procedures can make young people feel included and heard. “It can be frustrating when we’re just expected to know what to do sometimes… not all of us have had a job before or know what is expected.”


  1. Address mental health challenges the pandemic had a disproportionate effect on young people, and those who were already isolated really suffered. The young people we work with would like to see employers be aware of the additional pressures faced by young people in the workplace and make resources available to their staff to help with their mental health and wellbeing. Even small adjustments such as making sure there is a separate space for breaks can have a big impact.


  1. Give young people a voice Young people want to be heard, but they don’t always have the skills or the confidence to speak up. Give them opportunities to advocate for themselves, encourage them to have an input. Young people can offer fresh perspectives and giving them the chance to influence decisions can have a huge impact on their confidence, self esteem and job satisfaction, as well as help your organisation to develop too.


  1. Be a role model Many of the young people we work with have not had the benefit of a role model in their life, someone on whom they could model their behaviour, but they are ready and willing to learn. A young person’s first experience of work helps build foundations for their future and lets them develop the habits that will last through their career.

What do YOU think? Our young people hope that they can spark conversation and even effect change around young people in employment. We’re passionate about seeing change in employment and are interested in hearing different perspectives so we’d love to hear from you. Later this year we will be running an event, with funding from UK Youth and Coca-Cola, bringing young people and businesses together in conversation. If you’d be interested in hearing more, please contact [email protected]

Next Article

What lies ahead for stock markets after recent falls?

In our outlook for 2022, we warned that equity markets were likely to be more volatile this year. With global […]
Read Article