Helping school leavers on road to employment

Reporter:

Rob Bellis

DEMI Sajadi has been working at Fringes salon in Wrexham for a few months.

The 17-year-old’s tasks include answering the phone, dealing with customers and making appointments, shampooing and washing hair, and she has been taught how to do perms.

Demi has wanted to be a hair stylist for a number of years but struggled to get a place on one of the area’s college courses which have been very much in demand in recent years.

She may still be a few years off fulfilling her dream but the role has enabled her to get on the first rung of a very competitive ladder.

Her appointment came about thanks to Careers Wales North East, the employment information and advice service, and Wrexham-based personal advisor Clive Rowlands, who has been working with Demi since she was in school.

Demi explained: “I started with Careers Wales and they put me in touch with A4e (the learning and skills provider) and I got this placement through them.
Hairdressing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I struggled to get a placement. I’ve been part of Careers Wales since year nine, going to chat to Clive about my career options and it has been really useful.”

Careers Wales conducts an annual nationwide survey that gives a snapshot of the destination of school leavers on October 31. The 2008 survey showed that in Wrexham County Borough 145 young people who had left Year 11 that summer were not in employment, education or training (NEET) the following October.

This reflected a picture that had been worsening over the preceding years and in 2008 meant that 9.6 per cent of those leaving Year 11 in Wrexham were NEET, compared to a national average of 7.1 per cent.

A wide range of support is already provided through schools, youth services and organisations such as Careers Wales North East, Wrexham Council has worked with schools and partners such as the 14-19 Network and Careers Wales North East to identify a small group of those pupils seen as those potentially at risk of entering the NEET category on leaving Year 11

A pilot skills course has been, delivered by Wrexham ITeC offering learners a portfolio of skills and training opportunities, along with work placements in the housing and landlord services department of Wrexham Council.

The result has been that in the 2009 destinations survey there was a marked improvement in both the number (from 145 in 2008 to 72 in 2009) and proportion (from 9.6 per cent to 5 per cent) of those young people leaving Year 11 and becoming NEET.

This was the most significant improvement of any authority in Wales.

The 2010 Survey results will be published in April.

Mel Denton, salon owner at Fringes, said: “We’ve taken on a few girls from Careers Wales. One has now successfully got her own business and has done really well. I hope Demi can achieve the same level of success.

“I think it’s really good and it benefits a lot of people. Hairdressing is hard to get into, there’s not many college places or apprenticeships available. This is a good introduction to hairdressing and it gives them the opportunity to find out if it is really what they want to do before they commit.”

Better education and skills for Employment is one of Wrexham Council’s three priorities.

The priority is helping people develop the education and skills they need to successfully find employment, and in the long term is working to reduce the percentage of working-age people who are “economically inactive”.

Cllr Arfon Jones, lead member for children (additional learning, families and support), said: “I am very pleased our efforts to reduce the number of young people who are not in employment, education or training has been successful and we look to build on that success in future years and reduce the number even further.”

Joyce M’Caw, chief executive for Careers Wales North East, said: “Demi’s story illustrates the ongoing support provided by Careers Wales both in school and during the transition phase from education to further learning and training. It also demonstrates how partner organisations working together can make a real difference to the lives of young people in Wrexham.”

See full story in the Leader

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