Building confidence & looking to the future
Mackey believes employers have a key role to play in raising young people’s aspirations and confidence. She explains: “Often when you ask a young person what skills they have, they say ‘none’. But when you dig deeper, you unearth valuable talents. Someone might be a football team captain, for example, which shows leadership skills.
“It’s our responsibility to bring out their confidence and help them translate their skills to business.” So far, LifeSkills has reached over 338,000 young people. While Mackey admits that the goal of reaching one million by 2015 is ‘big and ambitious’, she believes that when schools begin reporting on destination data (from September 2014), numbers will increase. “Teachers will need to show they are doing something on this,” she says. She wants to see employability skills training become a key part of the curriculum and suggests that the government could play a crucial role in creating a quality mark for employability and work experience programmes. She proposes that a passport or pathway for young people to complete – involving work experience and practical workplace exposure – would be useful.
“If you don’t leave school with good GCSEs, it doesn’t mean you’re not trying or don’t want to succeed,” she says. “If a young person can say ‘this has made me more work ready’, employers will value this highly,” she concludes.