Wigan students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic are being equipped with the skills to help protect their futures.
Over the last 18 months young people have been deeply affected by the impact of the coronavirus, seeing their studies badly affected and their social lives diminished.
Now, as many students look to the future and start thinking about life outside of education, they are being met with a youth unemployment level of 14.6 per cent, three times higher than other groups.
But help is at hand. Students from St John Rigby College and Wigan and Leigh College have met members of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority joined representatives from pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to celebrate a new joint initiative.
The Young Person Employability Partnership: Sharing Skills for Life, is designed to help young people prepare as they enter the jobs market.
It aims to help students build resilience, develop interview skills and understand their personality types to develop entrepreneurial mindsets that will provide them with a head start when it comes to finding employment.
Originally a collaboration between Health Innovation Manchester and Boehringer Ingelheim, the initiative was developed to improve interaction with the life science sector and is now being supported by the GM Health and Social Care Partnership and Combined Authority.
Thirty students from the two Wigan colleges and Hopwood Hall Collegehave already taken part in a pilot. They attended a virtual event to learn about the skills that employers are looking for, considered the talents they already possessed and learned about the career paths available to them.
Paula Nolan, vice-principal (students) at St John Rigby College, said: “Observing the way in which the young people interacted and engaged with the events delivered by staff from Boehringer Ingelheim was extremely powerful.
“In the space of the work experience day alone, I witnessed our young people go from being slightly unsure of themselves to speaking confidently and participating fully in the opportunities provided to them.”
Warren Heppolette, GM Health and Social Care Partnership’s executive lead for strategy and system development, said: “This is a generation of people who have shown true resilience at a time when we all faced challenges that were previously unimaginable.
“However, we know the pandemic has been tough on young people – so, we now owe it to them to do everything we can to support them as they begin once again to look towards the future.
“This initiative is one of the ways we can do just that, helping young people understand the skills they already have and that a bright future is within their grasp. It builds on our existing Young Person’s Guarantee, and I’m sure everyone who takes part in the initiative will learn skills they can carry through their entire working life.”
The need for an initiative of this type became clear after local young people described their feelings of anxiety when talking about their experience of the pandemic. They voiced their concerns when taking part in the partnership’s Changing the Narrative campaign which highlighted the overlooked fact that many young people developed emotional resilience and a new set of skills during their time in lock-down.
Uday Bose, managing director of Boehringer Ingelheim UK & Ireland, comments: “At BI, we aspire towards a healthier world where our people and communities can reach their full potential and we believe that when we commit to improving the way we think, work and live, we can make a significant difference.
“It was wonderful to work with such a motivated group of young adults and to be part of an initiative which truly focuses on their futures. Through an array of interactive sessions, students were encouraged to build their skills to help boost confidence in their prospective workplaces. I look forward to watching them flourish.