Bedford Giving calls on local businesses to give work experience opportunities to young people

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Bedford Giving is calling on local businesses and organisations to join its World of Work project to offer opportunities to the town’s young people.

The project aims to help young people maximise their prospects in life, by bringing people and their expertise together with work experience opportunities.

As a collaboration of eight founding partners, Bedford Giving aims to create opportunities for young people in Bedford and to maximise their prospects in life.

It has already launched a Volunteer Mentoring Programme for 13 to 15-year-olds to help them to raise their career aspirations. Mentors are in the process of being trained and Bedford Giving’s next project to inspire young people is focusing on work experience.

Bedford Giving’s Interim Director Sam Baker said: “Did you know that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to end up out of education or employment than their better-off peers?

“Just four or more meaningful contacts with employers reduce the chances of this happening by 86 per cent.”

There are many benefits for the organisation in offering work experience, as well as for the young person on the placement.

Sam said: “You could build a talent pipeline, learn from a fresh young mindset, build your brand in the local area by demonstrating your commitment to the next generation and give employees development opportunities through supporting work experience students.

“For the young person, experiences of the workplace give them the opportunity to develop essential skills, explore careers available to them and expand their horizons and aspirations.

“But often finding work experience is the student’s responsibility, and that’s hard if your family has limited contacts.”

Sam said that businesses have told Bedford Giving that they would be interested in offering work experience, but no one has asked them.

“That’s where we come in,” he said.

“We have been working closely with local schools to develop our programme to increase opportunities for experience of the workplace. We are now engaging with and supporting local businesses to increase the supply.”

And that’s where local businesses come in.

Bedford Giving has developed a handy guide for employers with everything they need to know about offering work experience, so it’s much easlier than businesses might think.

“Often businesses are put off by worries about insurance or health and safety, but there are many easy solutions we can guide you through,” explained Sam.

Bedford Giving was born out of research involving more than 500 residents, including adults and young people, who were asked what they thought were the biggest challenges facing the town. 

The results were clear – the needs of young people were identified as the biggest concern. More than half of the comments from young people expressed a desire for vocational support, including opportunities for work, apprenticeships, and work placements.

You can view the Employer Work Experience Pack and find out more about joining Bedford Giving’s World of Work Programme here.