Transforming Job Prospects

Transforming Job Prospects

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

What inspired you to create the Hand Picked programme?

Having employed thousands of people over many years, I have come across countless young people who leave school or college and are unable to secure a job or even get an interview, however hard they try. Most of them don’t understand that finding a job is a competitive process and they need guidance in how to present and sell themselves. Through no fault of their own they are unaware of what an employer expects and they don’t have the personal networks to help kick start their careers. This results in them losing their confidence and feeling despondent about their future. That’s why I set up Hand Picked.

What are the aims of Hand Picked?

Quite simply, the aim of Hand Picked is to get more young people into work. We all know young people who manage to find their own jobs with ease, however there is a large group out there who find it more challenging. That’s the group we want to help.

We do this by asking employers to create a paid job for a young person and take them on for 90 days, give them proper experience of work and act as a mentor during their time with the company. At the end of the 90 days, the young person receives a written reference and support to help them move into permanent employment.  

We also run Academies for groups of young people which are held in employers’ premises and delivered from an employers’ perspective. We focus on challenging the real issues around why some people get jobs and others don’t. We tackle what employers want from an employee and how a job seeker can stand out from the competition.

What is the commitment required from employers and how can the scheme benefit the firms involved?

The commitment we ask from employers is to take someone on – not necessarily as a future employee but take them on and pay them for three months. Give them a proper job to do that involves learning new skills and contributing to the workplace. They need to justify their earnings and learn the value of work.

The benefits to the firms involved will be clear to see. As an employer, you will be making a direct impact on the life of a young person who wants to work and ultimately every business survives by taking on young people with new ideas and new energy.

Has Hand Picked been successful at getting youngsters into work? Can you give a couple of examples that have stood out to you?

Yes. Our project has been running since 2011 and to date we’ve worked with over 1000 young people who needed help finding work, so there are always success stories. Last year, we moved approximately 65% of our young people into paid employment and 35% into college places or apprenticeships.

There are a couple of stories that illustrate for me why Hand Picked is so important and why it works. The first was a graduate who 18 months after leaving university had only managed to find work as a volunteer. She didn’t know where she was going wrong and was losing confidence in her ability to ever find paid work. We found her a 90 day paid job which literally transformed her life. She progressed from that job into a permanent role and has sustained full time employment ever since.

The second was an 18-year-old school leaver who told me he knew he wouldn’t get a job because of his accent. He was from Cowdenbeath – I told him ‘I sound like you, I grew up in Cowdenbeath and I got a job.’ I was able to convince him that it wouldn’t hold him back and following on from our Academy, he now has an apprenticeship.

What are your hopes for the project going forward?

The immediate focus is Hand Picked 100. For the rest of the year we are campaigning to find 100 new employers to join Hand Picked and give a young person the chance to change their life. Ideally, each employer will provide a 90-day paid job, but we’re also looking for companies to host Academies on their premises for groups of young people in their local community.

What I really hope is that businesses and employers will step forward. This is a tangible way to shape the future workforce and an investment worth making.