Personal guidance – steps ahead
To help HR professionals appreciate young people’s challenges first hand, the CIPD is encouraging members to volunteer as mentors in its ‘Steps Ahead’ scheme. With help from Jobcentre Plus, young people aged 18-24 who are actively seeking work are matched with a mentor who provides CV advice, interview guidance and motivation through the job seeking process, in six one-hour sessions.
After an extended two-year pilot, the programme launched in January this year with the deployment of an online portal which ‘matches’ potential mentors and mentees. Since then, around 1,000 mentors have signed up – and by autumn Rüdiger hopes the scheme will reach across England.
Participants agree objectives before the relationship begins and the portal gives access to a range of resources to help mentors guide their mentees.
Feedback, Rüdiger says, has been positive from both sides. “Young people are amazed anyone would give their time for free to do this,” she explains. “Often they’re desperate and have no one to turn to. It’s helpful to have an experienced professional tell you where you’re going wrong.”
For HR professionals, mentoring is a great opportunity to develop your skills and make a difference to society. “At first, some are unsure if they can help, but once they find they can make a difference to someone’s life, they love it.
“Mentors are deepening their understanding of the disconnect between young people and employers, helping them make hiring decisions in their organisations,” she says.
Rüdiger explains that the portal can track user journeys and will soon be able to provide reports on demonstrable outcomes – such as how many mentees have found work.
The plan is to examine ways of accrediting mentors and incentivise more HR professionals to take part. Her ambition is to achieve 10% member engagement in the next five years, but she is keen to point out that the quality of relationships is more important than numbers.