Encouraging employment through volunteering
For the past year, Starbucks has been working closely with the London-based volunteering programme Headstart.
The scheme encourages 16- and 17-year-olds to become active in their community doing something they enjoy, while giving them the skills to succeed in the workplace.
Participants undertake 16 hours of volunteer work, then join an employability workshop to learn how their new skills can be articulated in a job interview. This leads to a guaranteed interview with Starbucks or fashion retailer New Look.
“If they are successful we can offer them a job – but this is not the driver,” insists Robbins. “We want to help young people get interview experience and tangible feedback, so they are clear about how to sell themselves – wherever they choose to work.
“We want to hire people who are enthusiastic, who think for themselves, who can work as a team and who have confidence,” she says. “Volunteering can help people develop those skills which are valuable to any workplace.” She argues that employers should look beyond “traditional” assessment methods. On-thej-ob trials, for example, give candidates the opportunity to see what life as a barista is really like, while allowing Starbucks to assess candidates’ attitudes and motivations.
In June of this year, Lord Young released the report Enterprise for All, which aims to link the relevance of enterprise in education. Young advocates the introduction of a new ‘Enterprise Passport’ – a digital record of all extra-curricular and enterprise-related activities that students participate in during education – representing a differentiator for employers seeking ‘proven’ employability skills.
Of those that complete the volunteering and employability workshops, four out of five are hired by Starbucks. Since only one in five interviewees for the company are ordinarily successful, Robbins believes this is a win-win situation for both the organisation and young people themselves. “It’s helping young people be more equipped to be successful – and to be confident about their experience,” she explains.
On the back of this success, Starbucks has guaranteed 50 jobs in the next tranche. “It didn’t take long to realise the benefit. We want to do more,” she says. Although currently limited to London, Robbins is also keen to replicate this model elsewhere. “I would love to see this expand,” she says. “We should absolutely use our scale for greater good.”