As part of Employability Day 2020, we hear from our very own Deuvaunn Darroux on his experiences and views on employability support and what the road ahead for services looks like.
My name is Deuvaunn. I’m 19 years old and Executive Assistant to the CEO of Youth Futures Foundation. I also work on our youth voice strategy. Outside of my work at Youth Futures, I am an Ambassador for Youth Employment UK and serve as the Policy Officer on their Ambassador Board. I’m also a Lambeth Youth Councillor and previously served as Lambeth’s representative on the London Youth Assembly.
I moved to the UK a few years ago from Montserrat in the Caribbean, where I worked in the Office of the Speaker in the Montserrat Legislative Assembly. I’m a history ‘nerd’ and a bit of a bookworm. I am passionate about youth voice and make a point of not talking about solutions for young people without them being at the table.
Shirley Chisholm coined a phrase that has stuck with me and gives me the drive to do what I do – “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
What do you think about the impact of the crisis on employment support? What should be done to support young people during and out of the crisis?
COVID-19 has significantly impacted the youth labour market and young people will face more obstacles to enter the workforce. I helped facilitate a working group for the Youth Employment Group on the issue of young people’s access to employability support during lockdown, so I know that young people aren’t always aware of the services out there for them or aren’t able to access them due to disabilities. This can make it harder to get the right support.
Programmes should be developed (with the input of young people) which highlight the services available and help young people to access them, for example, by getting them a device so that they’re able to access online content.
What have been your experiences of employment support? What things have helped you get to where you are today?
The employability support I received was lacking in most respects. I had an employment advisor, but he just told me to apply for jobs at KFC or in hotels. I’m not saying those are bad jobs, but I knew they weren’t for me. My mum is probably the closest I’ve come to having employment support. She didn’t necessarily understand my career aspirations, but she always helped me with applications, tweaking my CV or prepping for interviews. These are things that should be standard employment support available to all young people.
I know I’m not alone in looking to my mum for this sort of help either: the Youth Voice Census recently published by Youth Employment UK found that many young people rely on their parents or wider family to help them find employment, particularly when they’re looking for their first job. It’s good that many young people can find some sort of help, but it makes me think about what it’s like for those who aren’t as fortunate as me to have a supportive parent, and whether all parents know all of the kinds of opportunities that are out there.
In your experience, what makes good quality employment support for young people?
Needs of young people vary, but at the very least they should have support in filtering out options and navigating their way around job sites, and basic help such as filling out applications, creating and tweaking CV’s and preparing for interviews.
I think quality support for young people should include one-to-one mentoring to ensure the young person feels supported making decisions, and the work coach has a good idea of their aspirations are, rather than pushing them into a job that isn’t meaningful to them, just to make a quota.
Do you have any messages you would like to share in support of Employability Day 2020?
Employability support helps people to achieve their career goals. Even the seemingly minor things such as building someone’s confidence, helping them tailor their CV for a job or giving their application a once-over before it’s submitted, can make a massive difference in
helping them get the job.
There are organisations in the VCSE sector that offer this support to young people and have adapted their services to make them more accessible during this pandemic. They should be applauded for the way they go above and beyond to support young people, especially now when some of them are feeling unsure of what’s next on their journey.