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Shadow Employment Minister champions CIPD initiative to tackle youth unemployment in East London

Shadow Employment Minister and MP for East Ham Stephen Timms has praised the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, for its members’ work on the youth employment initiative Steps Ahead Mentoring.

Mr Timms, the CIPD’s first ‘MP champion’ for its mentoring scheme, joined CIPD mentors and young people at West Ham United Football Club on Thursday to celebrate the success of the scheme and to encourage more people to sign up. Chaired by CIPD Chief Executive Peter Cheese, the panel also included the West Ham Foundation’s Temisan Williams and Barclays Head of Employability Tessa Oversby.  

The Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, which currently has over 2200 volunteers and is aiming for a target of 4000 by 2016, is aimed at young jobseekers aged 18-24. Many of the young people have never worked before. Young people who take part in the programme receive an average of six one-to-one mentoring sessions with a Steps Ahead volunteer mentor, who not only helps them with their CV, application forms and interview preparation, but in many cases helps them launch their career.
Open to members of the CIPD and supported by Nesta and the Cabinet Office, the scheme is completely free and matches volunteers with jobseekers by referral from Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches. Having seen great success in England with 73% of participants going on to find work or work experience, the project is now being piloted in Wales, Scotland and Ireland as well. 
The shadow minister is urging organisations in the local area to get involved, highlighting the importance of volunteering not just for young people but as a development opportunity for mentors too. Tapping into local talent at the outset of their careers can also help businesses build their own talent pipeline for the future. 
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said: “We’re delighted that a prominent figure such as Stephen recognises the importance of tackling youth unemployment, and that he joins us in encouraging employers to play their part too. While the number of young people in work is on the rise, there are still many young jobseekers who need support to get them on the right path. The Steps Ahead Mentoring programme has helped hundreds of young people into work already, and it’s looking very positive that the programme will continue to grow. 

Stephen Timms MP commented: “Young people are often at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work. Those that have never had access to good-quality careers advice can find it very difficult to bridge the gap into the workplace. Just a few hours of mentoring is often all it takes to give young people the direction and support they need to move confidently into working life. The Steps Ahead mentors are fantastic role models to help young people unlock their true potential. I’d like to thank them all for their invaluable contribution and urge other potential volunteers to get involved as well.”

To find out more about the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, click here

To find out more about the CIPD’s Learning to Work programme, which promotes greater levels of employer engagement with young people, click here

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