#NationalCareersWeek: Providing an alternative pathway into employment

This year, Bristol’s young people are facing many new challenges created by the pandemic; particularly relating to their mental and emotional health, physical inactivity and employment opportunities.

Young people need Young Bristol more than ever before to help them gain and develop the essential life skills they will need to succeed and achieve great futures. And, our Outdoor Employment Programme continues to do just that.

The programme offers young people a direct pathway into paid employment, and a sense of belonging to a positive programme. In 2019-20, 71% of trainees who joined the programme were not in education, training, or employment.

This #NationalCareersWeek, hear from Dan, trainee on our Outdoor Employment Programme, as he shares the positive impact the programme is having on young people across our city.

Dan’s story

 “It is a fun way to find out who you are; there is a lot of self- discovery” Dan, 22

Young Bristol’s Outdoor Employment Programme has been working to support young people into employment for over 7 years. The programme works with young people ages 16 – 25, providing them with the skills, qualifications, experience and overall self-confidence, to become outdoor activity instructors. 

Dan first attended Young Bristol’s programmes during college in 2019, and it was then that he found out about the wide variety of opportunities available to him. Looking to take that next step in developing his skills, Dan decided to join Young Bristol’s Outdoor Employment Programme. “It is the being able to have someone watch you week in and week out, who can give you tips – that is the main reason I started going”, said Dan. 

Dan has since been attending the programme regularly for nearly 3 years, meeting other young people with similar interests and engaging with a variety of training and opportunities offered. 

The programme has helped Dan learn many practical skills including canoeing and rock-climbing techniques, as well as soft skills such as improved communication and ways to approach a diverse audience. All of this has supported Dan to develop from just learning basic skills, to being a highly proficient instructor and role model.

After attending the programme for several months, Dan was given more responsibility as a trainee, such as helping Young Bristol’s residential programme in summer 2019, delivery archery sessions to over 180 young people. These responsibilities and opportunities were a huge confidence booster to Dan. “Young Bristol has been one of the biggest reasons for my confidence”, and this confidence has even carried into his career and to new employment opportunities, “without Young Bristol I don’t think that I would have had the confidence to work at Bristol Zoo, and interact with different people from different backgrounds and ages”. 

The staff on the Outdoor Employment Programme aim to not only provide young people with the basic skills and qualifications that they need to be successful in their future, but also look to offer opportunities suited to the trainees needs and interests. As part of Dan’s development and next step’s this has been really useful; with Dan showing an interest in caving in particular, which led to him being taken as a supporting assistant on a caving session with young people during the summer. This has really motivated him to do his Local Cave Leader training with the British Caving Association.

The team at Young Bristol don’t just help young people to develop skills around employment, but also provide trainees support with life advice. The social aspect of Young Bristol has also been really great for Dan, and this has been especially important through the virtual sessions during COVID-19, with Dan sharing how it’s nice to see familiar faces and have a chat. 

Through Young Bristol Dan has been able to experience many different opportunities, and now thanks to the programme, has achieved multiple qualifications. When asked what advice he would give to other young people considering getting involved in the programme, Dan said, “I would definitely encourage it, because no matter why you are starting, there are so many benefits. You get life advice, hard skills with different activities and soft skills, and there is a social side to it too.” 

Written by Natasha Joseph Pottamkulam, University of Bristol student 

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