Birmingham students rewarded with a personal reference.

Our business volunteers have been identifying the key qualities demonstrated by our students.

This month we’ve been bringing together our young people with volunteers from businesses across the city for one-on-one conversations with a very specific purpose. 

Each of our four-hundred Community-Apprentice students will receive a personalised Competency Reference.  Based around six key competencies that are valued in the workplace, these references will provide specific examples of where the student has demonstrated and developed skills and good character.

The reference, which will complete each student’s Community-Apprentice certificate, solves a problem many young people face: needing a reference to gain employment and employment to gain a reference. Geared towards the competencies and attributes that employers say they value most highly, it equips young people with the tools to succeed in applications, interviews and the workplace. Developing competencies on the programme is one part of the story; being able to reflect on and articulate them is another. “It was chatting to the coach and answering their questions that made me realise how much work we’d done and what we achieved,” says Safia, from Handsworth Wood Girls Academy, whose team volunteered at a children’s club in Balsall Heath.

And the session itself is extremely valuable to our students. For most of them, one-on-one support from a business professional – who is interested in what they have to say and is wholeheartedly cheering for them – is a completely new experience. The conversation is a huge confidence boost for our young people. “It was amazing to be listened to and asked questions by people so high up in their careers,” says Safia. “Usually it would be us expected to do the listening! Beforehand the coaches told us about what they were like when they were our age and their worst job interviews, so it made everything much less intimidating than it might have been.”

It also proves to be an inspiring and valuable session for our business volunteers too. Weronika from Employment Agency Katie Bard, who has been volunteering as a Community-Apprentice Team Coach since September said, “I’ve seen a real difference in how their skills developed over the past 10 months. For many, the project was a great confidence booster and being a coach for such an inspiring group of young people was an unforgettable experience.”

Our vision is a Birmingham in which every student leaves school with not only qualifications but the confidence, skills and self-awareness to thrive in the workplace - a Birmingham in which the today’s business leaders nurture tomorrow’s.