IF EVERY job interview involved a kick-about on a football pitch or a training session in the gym, more youngsters would be enthused about their career prospects.
But, too often, the ambitions of young people leaving school are crushed by the stark reality of the workplace.
Street League can restore these hopes and dreams through a combination of sport and employment training.
For Johnmichael Green, his career with DHL Express literally started with a game of football.
It was an opportunity to break the ice with the people who would later become his colleagues after the school leaver was signed up for a five-week placement.
One year later, Johnmichael is now a trusted and respected member of the DHL team, and works as a courier driver for the firm.
At DHL’s Glasgow Service Centre in Paisley, they are really proud to have an average workspan of 17 years, with the longest serving member of staff working with them for 35 years.
However, the fresh eyes and perspective of the 20-year-old from Ferguslie were also very much welcomed by the team.
“We have a wide spectrum of people here and having a diversity in the workplace is absolutely brilliant,” says Richie Lloyd, the service centre manager.
“Johnmichael brought new things to our business.
“Our warehouse environment changed and he gave us new ways of seeing things. These youngsters challenge us in our ways of working, asking, ‘Why do you do it that way? Have you ever thought about doing it this way?’ ”
The initial game of football, organised by Street League with the staff at DHL breaks down barriers, and makes it easier for young people to move into a more formal setting where they take practical steps such as creating a CV.
Because DHL is a regulated agency and a bonded facility, security is paramount, and anyone working there, even on a short placement, must be vetted. They also need to provide a detailed five-year history covering education, employment or unemployment.
Playing a vital role in helping young people
FROM work tasters to mock interviews and work placements that lead to a job, Street League’s awardwinning programmes, combining sport, accredited learning and practical work experience, have supported 5851 young people into work and further education since 2010.
Dougie Stevenson, Street League’s managing director for Scotland said “The young people we support have aspirations to gain employment in everything from childcare and warehousing to sports coaching and retail.
We offer surety to each employer and in turn – through work placements, employment and Modern Apprenticeship opportunities – our employer partners give young people the opportunity to put the skills and confidence they’ve developed through our programme into practice.
Our relationships with DHL and People’s Postcode Lottery as well as our network of small local employers across Scotland are an integral part of our programme, eradicating poverty and enabling opportunities by creating pathways for unemployed young people into the workforce and to become active citizens.”
“That can could be a barrier for young people or anyone without an extensive CV or work history,” explains Richie.
“But everyone must follow thesame rules and we found ways of working together to gather all the references we needed.”
Because staff and trainees had already met on the football pitch, they already had a level of understanding, a glimpse of strengths and weaknesses.
Glasgow DHL was the first work academy for Street League participants in the UK and their model was then incorporated by DHL locations across the country.
People start in the warehouse, and have the opportunity to progress to forklift drivers and couriers, then managers and all the way up to chief executive. “Most of the people in DHL have come through the ranks,” says Richie.
David Graham, 18, from Paisley, is another Street League participant now transitioning to a full-time post.
After leaving school at 16 and trying out painting and decorating at college, he realised it wasn’t for him. “I was worried about getting myself into work,” he admits.
He now enjoys working in the warehouse at DHL and hopes to become a courier. “Just getting used to the world of work can be challenging but this is a great place with a good atmosphere,” says David.
Richie adds: “We have a huge diversity of conversation and experience going on that we would have missed out on and we are all the better for it. It is the definition of a partnership and we get as much out of this as we like to think Street League get – it’s inspirational.”
People’s Postcode Lottery’s getting us fit for our working life
Nico McCathie and Kyron Downie, both 16, were disillusioned at school and desperately seeking a positive way forward when Street League stepped in.
While we all wish young people left school with a sense of direction, purpose and optimism, that’s not always the case and, like many youngsters on the cusp of adulthood, the two boys needed guidance and practical help.
Thanks to a 10-week fitness programme in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh, that includes a work placement with People’s Postcode Lottery, both boys are now happier and have more confidence in their future.
Kyron has loved going to the gym and following a programme and says: “I’m training hard to get a better body and I feel myself getting stronger.
“It’s great waking up the next day and feeling sore because you know you have put in the effort.”
Similarly, Nico wasn’t enjoying school and left as soon as he turned 16, with the ambition of joining the Army but for now he’s currently in the Army Cadet Force.
“I’d love to join the Army but first I would rather get a job that will help me keep up fitness and gym work. “Now I’ve learned how to do a CV and have been given advice on how to act in interviews and around the workplace.”
Youth unemployment remains a massive problem in the UK and up to one in four 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed in the areas where Street League works.
This is a huge cost to the taxpayer and society, not to mention the long-term consequences of unemployment on mental and physical wellbeing.
Street League says this is unacceptable, and its vision is to see an end to youth unemployment.
Euan MacDermid, Street League’s progressions co-ordinator in Edinburgh, says:
“Many of the young people come out of school and feel pressured about what they want to do but few people know at that stage. We try to take that pressure away and give them training opportunities and a platform for a better employment future.”
• For more information on the work of Street League, visit www.streetleague.co.uk
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