Disadvantaged young people in Kent are being helped back into work or education through CXK’s support programmes.
Young people aged 16-25 can apply to join the programmes, which are designed to help them progress to a job, training or education placement.
The 12-week Elevate and Prince’s Trust Team programmes, which are offered free of charge, are held three times a year. Elevate runs in Canterbury but accepts applications from young people in the surrounding areas. Meanwhile the Prince’s Trust Team programme operates in Ashford, Dartford and Sittingbourne.
Kellie Major, Assistant director at CXK,, explains that around 15 young people are accepted for each intake. However numbers do fluctuate throughout the year. The highest intake is in November because “young people have tried college and it didn’t work out”, she explains.
Many of the young people accepted onto CXK’s programmes have had previous negative experiences of education. They find the programme environment to be “very different” to school or college. “Because of this we find that they attend well,” says Major. “The aim is to build their confidence and prepare them for their next steps, whether that’s an apprenticeship or finding a job.”
Elevate allows applicants to gain qualifications in English and Maths and is run by two members of staff who also provide pastoral support and employability skills to the group.
The Prince’s Trust Team programme, led by a team leader and assistant, is similar but has greater emphasis on using teamwork to improve confidence.
“We also want them to make a positive contribution to their communities. So they get involved in projects such as helping in a care home or a youth centre,” says Major. While both programmes offer a period of work experience, the type and length of placement is tailored to each young person’s needs.
“Our staff are good at assessing them in the beginning to see what their barriers are. They look at what support they need and then develop an individual learning plan for them,” says Major.
Parent, agencies and support organisations across Kent refer young people to the programmes. Young people can also self-refer. Major says there are a range reasons why young people haven’t achieved in mainstream education. “Some of them are looked-after children, others are those that youth offending teams have referred to us. We plan a programme to support those different needs,” she adds.
Ethan Button turned to CXK for help in September when he was rejected from college for not having the right English qualification to get onto a childcare course. He joined the Elevate programme to improve both his qualifications and employability chances. “Working in small groups and having lots of one-to-one support from my tutors has helped me achieve good results in my qualifications,” he says.
Following a successful work experience placement at a nursery, Ethan has since been offered an apprenticeship role there. “Elevate, and especially my work experience, has given me the confidence and experience I needed to get an apprenticeship. I’m excited for what the future holds,” he says.
Between September 2017 and August 2018, 117 young people took part in the Elevate and Prince’s Trust Team programmes. More than 80 per cent of those young people moved into a “positive outcome” such as education, training or a work placement. Eight young people secured an apprenticeship. Major believes the programmes are of great benefit to young people who may have experienced setbacks in their education.
“Being in an environment where they are learning on the job, rather than being in a classroom all the time, is great for them. It’s a good first step for a lot of our young people,” she adds.