John loved using his hands and designing objects made of wood when he was at school. His favourite subject, Design and Technology, was also his worst result at GCSE. How come? He would make these beautiful ornaments, bowls, and small furniture. Then he would have to write about it. John’s love lay in doing, making and creating, not in describing. It turned him off school and he left at 16. How would someone like John with an emerging talent become employable? How could he follow an alternative path and present himself as a young professional?

young professionalJohn became an apprentice furniture maker. At the age of 21, he had five years of solid work experience and was earning enough to live independently away from home – ironically, in a shared house with university students. Next, he is embarking on a year abroad to North America, teaching snowboarding (another passion) and then seeing how he can use his design skills on his travels. He has plenty of dreams and ambitions like learning chainsaw art, building a log cabin and a narrowboat. A 21st-century explorer.

What has John’s story got to do with getting a guaranteed job interview? As we know, standing out to employers no longer relies solely on qualifications. Your personal journey is unique to you. Furthermore, you have a story to show and tell at any age whatever your circumstances. Most of all, it’s in the showing and telling that you can stand out as a young professional with substance. If he wanted, John could show an employer his furniture products (skills application); explain the difference he has made (customer satisfaction and sales); explore his personal commitment to developing himself (mindset); and present himself as a young professional (identity and reputation).

The single best way to maintain your reputation is to do things you’re proud of. Seth Godin

YEUK Young Professional

There is now a new and innovative way that any young person can show an employer their commitment to being a young professional. Someone like John. Youth Employment UK is a social enterprise campaigning for a youth-friendly culture among UK employers and a platform for the voice of young people on employment issues affecting them. (Btw, declaration of interest – I’m a Non-Executive Director). This week, YEUK launched its free Young Professional membership scheme, open to all 16-24-year-olds in the UK, regardless of education, employment status or background.

Leading employers and organisations like McDonald’s and LearnDirect Apprenticeships have guaranteed job interviews to any Young Professional alumni applying for relevant opportunities who meet the essential criteria. That’s a direct positive impact on youth employment.

Changing the Rhetoric and Taking Ownership

This is groundbreaking. It shifts the rhetoric away from the negative effects of being labelled NEET (not in employment, education, or training), economically inactive and ‘at risk’ to the positive self-image and pride of calling oneself a young professional with potential.

Our young people are the very fabric of our society. In the not too distant future they will be the leaders of our businesses, economy and political system. Their potential has no limits but the labels we place on them do. The YEUK Young Professional Membership puts the tools into young people’s hands to begin to change the way they and the world see them. Laura-Jane Rawlings, CEO of Youth Employment UK.

And these are not just words. Becoming a YEUK Young Professional shows employers that young people are committed to taking control of their future. Becoming a member starts with passing an online training module. Furthermore, they engage with a programme of self-development in employability skills and behaviours regardless of social background, education attainment or experience. The programme addresses social mobility by creating a level playing field for all young people.

Recent research from the Chartered Management Institute and Ernst & Young, An Age of Uncertainty, found that most young people want more opportunities for work experience. A third from disadvantaged backgrounds lack confidence in their skills and knowledge to get into work locally. Becoming a YEUK Young Professional helps by building self-confidence and enhancing opportunities for work experience and jobs. The scheme already has 100% positive feedback from over 200 initial programme alumni who feel the initiative has boosted their career confidence.

Young People and Employers: How to Sign Up

young professionalIf you are a young person who wants to take ownership and responsibility for your career, becoming a YEUK Young Professional is a no-brainer. Sign up and see the benefits here.

young professionalIf you are an employer of any size, becoming a Community Member is a public commitment to being Youth Friendly. Are you going to guarantee YEUK Young Professionals interviews where their applications meet the essential criteria? Sign up and see the benefits here.