A successful project taking place at the Fitzwilliam has been giving work opportunities to local young people.
This series of work placements at the Fitzwilliam has been enabled by the Future Jobs Fund, an initiative that will have funded over 100,000 jobs by the end of March 2011. The scheme, aimed at 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for six months, is taking place in institutions across the country, including the East of England, and offers young people crucial work experience that will build their confidence and prepare them for the wider world of work.
"The evidence showed that young people had been particularly hard hit by the recession in terms of getting job opportunities", explains Hazel Courtley, Partnerships Manager at MLA Renaissance East of England. "Future Jobs is all about trying to address this by setting up these short term job opportunities for young people, so they can get a foot in the door, acquire skills and enrich their CVs - hopefully to help them get jobs in the future."
At the Fitzwilliam, each young person is provided with a mentor, and given a work plan taking into account their existing strengths and designed to provide new challenges and development opportunities. The length of individual placements ranges from six to eighteen months, and those on the scheme were involved in a diverse number of activities. "One of the things the museum is doing is to prepare the young people to apply for jobs in different sectors, for example helping them look at how you fill out application forms, interview preparation, looking at their CVs - all those sorts of things that will stand them in good stead" says Hazel Courtley.
Feedback from the scheme has been "incredibly positive", says Matt Dobbin of Discovery East, who has been evaluating the project. Participants are being encouraged to share their opinions online through diary entries, pictures and forum use. "It's been a really productive experience on both sides, and the feedback has been that for young people, it's really opening their eyes to a totally different sector. This will raise awareness of the concept of giving people short term jobs and a chance to gain experience, and that it can benefit on both sides a huge amount."
One young person on a Technician Building Services placement at the Fitzwilliam describes his time at the Museum as "amazing - the only fault is that it's going too fast! I never thought I'd enjoy waking up early in the morning and going to work, but I actually do look forward to getting up in the morning and starting my day."
Another participant, who is on a Museum Assistant placement at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, says "I didn't think it would be this much fun and I didn't think I'd have quite so many different things to do. I think it will help me get a job anywhere really because there are so many different aspects. I've learnt about business running, promoting, I've worked in the shop - so I feel quite confident that I could go and work at pretty much anywhere."
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