Social enterprise the Platform Project celebrates growth
The Platform Project continues to grow as it welcomes two new partnership managers. The new team members will create closer relationships with local employers and further reduce youth unemployment.
The appointments follow the receipt of grant funding from the John Lewis Partnership Community Legacy Fund. That fund exists to help more young people improve their employability prospects at this difficult time.
Figures from the latest Office for National Statistics’ labour market report released in March show almost two thirds of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic are under 25. Almost half a million fewer young people are in work than a year ago. These figures highlight the toll this pandemic has had on young people. And it’s expected to get worse over the following year.
Said Sadie Sharp, the Platform Project founder
‘This extra funding has allowed us to grow our team over the last year. In this period the need for our service increased at an astronomical rate. We’re delighted to have Alison Adams and Michelle Simpson to help us to help more young people take their first steps into work or self-employment.’
The Platform Project runs six month long developmental internships in a ‘training workplace.’ There, young people speed up the development of their CV work experience, skills and confidence. They achieve that by running a range of youth led business projects.
An innovative programme
The innovative programme sees interns gain practical experience of:
- managing projects
- liaising with clients
- organising events …
- .. and providing goods and services
Through all this they develop such transferable employability skills as:
- Goal setting
The interns then have a vocational mentor. That mentor helps them take their next steps into work or self-employment. And this is where the partnership managers come in.
Sadie said: ‘With the help of Alison and Michelle, can now do a rapid scale up of the connections we have with local businesses and freelancers. Our interns need to interact with external professionals. In that way they’ll learn specialist skills and hear how they built their careers. They’ll also have access to work experience, shadowing and interview opportunities in local companies to move into work.
‘We’re providing a platform for young people to transition in an effective way. But it will take a community effort to create enough opportunities to make a dent in the increasing level of youth unemployment. We’ve currently got a success rate of 80-90% of getting young people into work, education or self-employment. But we’d like to increase this to 100%!’
Alison and Michelle’s responsibility involves developing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with local corporates, small businesses, and freelancers. Those relationships will provide a range of career development opportunities that help the interns take their next steps into the world of work.
Andy Langley, CEO at Swindon specialist IT company Ntegra, was one of the project’s first employer partners.
He said: ‘We wanted to get involved with The Platform Project because we have a strong CSR commitment to support our local community. I’ve been so impressed at what the project can do.
Our staff have developed great skills from becoming mentors. Further, the work experience opportunities are introducing us to entry level talent. And this talent is so much more capable than we would be able to hire on the open market. We’re looking forward to full employment opportunities as our relationship progresses!”
The new team members
Michelle Simpson, who lives in Old Town, Swindon, has over 30 years experience in procurement, relationship management, leadership and innovation. She said: “I’ve followed The Platform Project from its early stages and have been so impressed by the impact and work that it does. I have a personal desire to use my knowledge and personal experience of working with large corporates to find sustainable employment opportunities for young people. Those yet to have a chance to reach their full potential.’
Alison Adams, who lives in Old Town, has over ten years’ experience in the charity sector. Her first role out of university was as a volunteer coordinator with the Swindon Youth Offending Team.
She said: ‘I’m looking forward to developing relationships with a variety of local businesses. In turn those relationships will provide a wide range of work experience and employment opportunities and mentoring for The Platform Project’s interns. Further it’s about tailoring those relationships to their business needs. It’s a fantastic opportunity to make a tangible difference to the lives of young people in Swindon. And, at the same time, have access to such skilled entry level talent.’