Promise to Care

Several local businesses and organisations have supported care-experienced young people over the last three years through Leicestershire Cares Promise to Care program. These businesses and organisations have provided the support and opportunities care-experienced young people needing to progress in education, employment and their wider lives.

This toolkit is designed in collaboration with care-experienced young people and the local business community and is for businesses, local authorities and support organisations. It gives insights and ideas into the issues facing care-experienced young people looking for work and how to support them before and during the recruitment process, and when they are in employment.

“I believe the onus is on businesses in partnership with support organisations to solve the problems and barriers that care experienced young people face in finding and staying in employment. The onus is not on the care leaver who has a great deal to understand and navigate already when applying for a new job. However, the care experienced young person must take responsibility for their integration into the world of work and be receptive to working with businesses in order to make the relationship work. This can be worked out through clear communication, understanding and training.”

Emily Quinton, Manager European Events and Communications, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Why might care-experienced young people need support to get into work?

Care-experienced young people often do not have the social and family networks that can open doors to the workplace. In addition, while care leavers are entitled to statutory support up to the age of 25, their support workers have increasingly large workloads which requires them to triage their cases and focus on those most in need.

These young people need to be supported to succeed and to achieve their potential. Businesses offering meaningful employment and a stable income can enable care-experienced young people to overcome many of the other challenges they face in their wider lives.

What do businesses need to know?

Young creative workforce

Care-experienced young people have energy, drive and a different outlook on things which can bring a fresh perspective and a different way of thinking to your business. They are eager to get on with their lives and have developed an inner determination to succeed as many do not have a safety-net of mum or dad to fall back on. The enthusiasm of youth is great for team building, productivity and workplace morale, and add the resilience that care-experienced young people have developed through their lives and you have one powerful work colleague.

Jobs improve lives

Supporting a care-experienced young person into employment can increase their independence, a sense of responsibility, money management and connection to society. It can boost their self-esteem and confidence and can turn their life around. Many care-experienced young people will live in isolation and poverty which is a key indicator for being exposed to the criminal justice system, being a victim of crime, living a shorter life, or having life limiting chances compared to their peers. A job can improve their social and professional networks which in turn, can open doors to new opportunities that can enhance their lives and give back to society.

Supporting a care-experienced young person into employment can increase their independence, a sense of responsibility, money management and connection to society.

What could businesses do to support care leavers?

  • Offer work tours to see what the world of work looks like.
  • Help to review a CV.
  • Help to fill out a job application.
  • Create a volunteering opportunity at your work.
  • Become a Mentor and guide a care-experienced young person through the employment journey. Find out more about our Care Experienced Mentoring Programme.
  • Change your application process – for instance, making mobile applications more user-friendly, and offer alternate application processes.
  • Offer apprenticeships and training.
  • Offer mock interviews.
  • Offer work experiences or shadowing opportunities.
  • Provide safe spaces for care-experienced employees for times when they may feel overwhelmed, particularly in the early days of starting a new job.
  • Provide an in-work Mentor or buddy for regular and direct contact.
  • Offer discounts for care-experienced young people.
  • Guarantee interviews to any care-experienced young person who applies and meets the minimum requirement.
  • Notify organisations that support care-experienced young people when a job opportunity is coming up.

“Before I started on the Care Experienced Mentoring Programme I had very limited involvement with young people in the care system. It has been incredibly rewarding learning with, and from, someone with a different life story, knowledge and experience. It’s challenged me to adapt the communication and engagement skills I use in my work role, and in turn take the learnings from the mentoring back into the workplace. Taking part has given me perspective and increased confidence in my leadership and communication skills.”

Sarah Adamson, Head of Category, Revolution Kitchen

What do care-experienced young people want businesses to know about them?

  • We miss out on learning some life skills that people who grow up in a stable family take for granted, but often have skills and experiences that mean we are more independent and mature than others our age.
  • Many of us suffer from anxiety and this can flair up with the thought of interviews. Can the recruitment be different?
  • We don’t have the safety net of mum and dad which means we can find it difficult to take risks to further our career. You can help encourage us to take those next steps.
  • Relationships are important to us but trust can take time to build.
  • We have lived through a lot of change in life. Things changing becomes the norm for us. Stability can be scary and new to us. It is something that can take time to learn.
  • Many of us moved around homes and schools so our education has been messed up. Please don’t discount us just because we don’t have the grades.
  • We are resilient.
  • We will make your workforce diverse.

Hear the voices of care-experienced young people

This podcast will give an insight into the issues facing care-experienced young people looking for work. It will give ideas on how to support them before and during the recruitment process, and when they are in employment.

Listen to the podcast.

What do Leaving Care Support Workers need to know?

What do Leaving Care Support Workers need to know?

Small and local is good

Look at smaller companies in the areas that the young person is interested in and look to create opportunities to speak and connect with them rather than relying on online applications. Once this relationship has been established, make sure that the CV and cover letter for this young person reflects the job role and their desire to work in this field or for this company.

Big companies and their CSR: linking into UN Sustainable Development Goals and the ethical consumer

Approach larger employers to discuss their CSR targets and how they could attract diverse individuals whilst improving the outlook of care-experienced young people. Employing and supporting a care-experienced young person fits into the UN Sustainable Development Goals as an act of sustainability.

  • Be open around the challenges that care-experienced young people can face but also highlight just how resilient this makes them
  • Explain how partnering together could help them to achieve their community and social responsibility outcomes
  • Discuss the apprenticeship levy and additional apprenticeship bursary of £1000 to an employer when recruiting a care leaver into an apprenticeship
  • Care-experienced young people may lack experience or education, counteract this by offering the employer trial shifts where care experienced young people can showcase other skills such as resilience.
  • Celebrate good news stories and successes – sharing case studies with employers is perfect for this.
  • Local promise for local companies to sign to say they will support care-experienced young people. Businesses signing up to the Promise to Care program get a digital badge for their website, and we offer training, support, and more.

What support could you offer an employer?

  • Promote that you can ensure that the individual/individuals will be prepared for employment having completed mock interviews, an employer’s expectations session (which should be tailored to that company), will have their ID, bank account, access to suitable clothing, support with travel and where necessary sector-based training.
  • You could offer to support with pre-screening, training around what a care-experienced young person is and what extra support may be needed.
  • Offer a point of contact for support throughout the first 6-12 months of the young person’s placement.
  • Offer to host networking events and training days for businesses.
  • Support the business with comms and PR around employing a care-experienced young person. Put them in your newsletter, on your website, provide quotes from your organisation and young people, share on social media.

What support is needed for the care-experienced young person?

  • Provide tailored advice to succeed through an application process.
  • Help them to overcome challenges of applying online. This might mean asking the employer to skip processes due to Covid-19 or to young people’s digital barriers.
  • Offer support in preparation for work: the expectations of employers such ashow to present themselves, what to do if they face any issues, and so on.
  • Interview stage: mock interviews and understanding the company set up and culture.
  • Corporate parenting: sending good luck texts and “a time to get up” phone call on the morning of interviews or starting work.
  • Starting work: agree an ongoing in-work support plan to ensure the young person can discuss any concerns or issues at work.
  • Opening young people’s eyes to a range of careers, industries, and opportunities to start your own business. We run work tours and Speedy Speakers sessions where businesses/volunteers present their industry/career in a 10 min presentation.
  • Finding young people a business mentor, someone that has ‘work’ experience that can support them and be an extra pair of ears and source of advice.
  • Offering them something constructive to do while they are not in work, something that can keep motivated and engaged young people focused and sharp. We offer a lot of advocacy and participation work for our young people.

The experiences of care-experienced young people vary depending on the reasons why they entered care, the age at which they entered care, their gender, sexuality, contact they may or may not have with their family, their asylum seeking status, if they have a disability and the type of care they are/were in. These factors will all impact on a young person and the type of support they need. This means there are no “one size fits all” solutions and we have to tailor support to each young person’s situation and goals.

This toolkit does not have all the answers to breaking down the barriers to employment for care-experienced young people. However, we hope that it leads you to conversations with young people which will increase understanding of both parties’ needs and aspirations, resulting in a successful and fulfilling journey for employer and employee.

Read the original posting at Leicestershire cares.