Business at the heart of the community: Helping the next generation to get ahead

Lambeth young people have to compete with people from all over the world for the jobs on their doorstep, but Lambeth’s businesses are giving them the leg up they need to get the competitive edge in the global talent race. 

Young people in Lambeth are amongst some of the most ambitious and entrepreneurial in London, and have every industry imaginable within a bus journey. But they are also competing with talent from all over Britain and the world for jobs and opportunities. The real scandal is that those opportunities are still more available for those lucky enough to have wealthy or well connected parents.

Lots of young people I’ve spoken to are stuck in a vicious circle. They can’t get a job because they don’t have any experience but they can’t get experience without getting a job. And we know that the earlier young people get experience of working, the quicker their confidence and soft skills get up to where they need to be and the more likely they are to have a lifetime of higher paying work.

The employers at POP Brixton are doing their bit to widen opportunity and get the experience. As part of the “community giveback” initative that all the POP businesses have signed up to, they must volunteer at least an hour a week of their time to give to the local community. This week that took the form of a jobs fare in the greenhouse at POP. I was pleased to be able to head down to open the event alongside Michael Groce from Green Man Skills Zone.

40% of the businesses who attended had vacancies; either for full or part time jobs, apprenticeship or traineeships so the young people who came along were genuinely in with a chance of finding something. They could also pick the brains of the employers to find out what it takes to become a successful business person. Green Man were on hand too to offer advice about how to write a CV and tips from employers about what they look for in candidates.

Last week I was at Lambeth College meeting the graduates from the hospitality training course, all of whom had worked in Clapham businesses for a couple of weeks to gain that valuable experience. The course trainers told me that the practical exposure to real employers had been the most interesting and motivating part of the course (honest of the teachers!)

This Friday Morleys are hosting a frgrance workshop for young people in partnership with the Young Lambeth Cooperative, not just fun about making your own perfume but business sense and entrepreneurial skills and shaping up business acumen. All over the borough businesses are playing their part offering work experience and saturday jobs. But we need to make sure that this is available to every young person in Lambeth.

My role is to make sure that Lambeth young people win the talent contest for jobs and other opportunities. I’m confident that they will but a little help from local businesses won’t hurt and and the business community is starting to do its bit.

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Author: jackhopkins

Labour Councillor for Oval ward in London Borough of Lambeth, and Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth covering economic development, regeneration, planning and entrepreneurship. (formerly Community Safety) Interested in partnerships, training and development, social mobility and Arsenal.

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