What are the skills employers want, and how do I acquire them? These are questions young people leaving education to find their place in the world of work must ask themselves.
Without knowing the answers, or having the right personal connections, it can seem next to impossible to get a foot on the first rung of the career ladder. As a leading global recruitment company, SThree is in a perfect position to lend a hand - over the past year, the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme has helped to transform the job prospects of thousands of young people from diverse backgrounds.
Transforming lives through skills & work
More than 575 employees have volunteered to share their knowledge and skills to positively impact over 3,160 young people and unemployed adults since the scheme launched in 2011.
Olida, CSR Apprentice shares her story at an employability workshop with unemployed women from City Gateway.
One young person, Seamus, had been looking for a job for nearly a year without success, but following the advice he received at an SThree workshop, Seamus secured a three-month contract as an Administration Assistant at the London Fire Brigade.
Through its CSR programme, SThree works with charities and schools to tailor workshops to the specific needs of the people attending, from school leavers and NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) to older unemployed people.
Marie Broad, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at SThree, says the main aims of the workshops are to raise aspirations and give people the skills and confidence to get into work, with a particular focus on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) areas.
“We want to highlight to young people the different sectors, the job roles that are out there that they could do, and also the different functions within companies that they might not be aware of,” she says.
A bonus feature of the workshops is that they provide talent spotting opportunities for managers, who have offered 30 work experience placements and six permanent positions within the company to attendees. They have also helped others to go on and get jobs elsewhere.
Apprenticeships as career springboard
Another way SThree employees are passing on their knowledge and skills is through an apprenticeship scheme run with charity City Gateway. SThree has taken on 10 apprentices since 2013. The apprentices are on a one-year contract with the company while doing an NVQ in business administration. SThree has created follow on opportunities for all young people on the programme, be that employment within the company, with other employers or further education.
In a wider partnership with City Gateway, SThree runs sessions for young people before they commence apprenticeships with other companies, workshops for adult unemployed women and training events for staff groups.
In addition SThree has funded 14 bursaries to support talented students who would otherwise have struggled to meet the costs of their degree. Marie continues: “We take an active interest (in the students) and offer them work experience opportunities within SThree. One student is studying Oil, Gas and Energy Management at university: we are so pleased to have been able to set up a one year paid internship for him during his year in industry with exposure to our clients. Colleagues get involved in supporting people and making them feel welcome in the business.”
Raising money for a great cause
These are just some of the ways that SThree is supporting young people. In December, the company celebrated its seventh year as a ‘Transformational partner’ of SOS Children’s Villages. The charity, which works in 124 countries, provides orphaned and abandoned children with loving homes.
Two employees from the Netherlands visit the SOS Children’s Village in Chipata, Zambia to create artwork with the children; here sitting outside the ‘SThree’ house.
The majority of SThree’s fundraising have gone to the SOS Children’s Village in Chipata, Zambia, where an estimated 1 in 6 children are orphans.
In a Children's Village, each child is looked after by an SOS ‘Mother’ who cares for a small group of children and they live together as a family. SThree has been involved in the Chipata project from its inception, helping with the construction of the Village and setting up education and health facilities. There are now 130 children living there, including 8 in a house named after SThree in honour of the company’s contribution.
To date, SThree has raised over £767,000 for SOS Children’s Villages and aims to hit a target of £1m by its 10th anniversary in 2018.
Chief Executive Gary Elden went to Zambia and Malawi in 2013 to see for himself how the company’s support has changed lives. In Malawi he met Christina and Sangalatsani who grew up in an SOS Children’s Village. He was determined to help them achieve their dreams of studying for business administration degrees at university and SThree now provides scholarships that cover their tuition fees, accommodation, living expenses, laptop and books.
During 2015, SThree’s funding in Chipata has achieved: schooling, uniforms and books for 410 children in rural communities; 70 places for young people to learn trades at the Institute; 6,800 treatments on the medical bus in remote areas; livelihood input for 157 families helping them to form cooperatives, including a brickmaking machine and grinding mill.
Marie explains: “We encourage employees to take on their own fundraising initiatives, whether that’s a marathon or a cake sale in the office. When employees take on personal challenges to raise money, the company matches their fundraising up to a total of £50,000 per year.”
In the last few years, SThree has increased its involvement with the charity in the USA and Germany. Employees in the USA are helping with the construction of a new community centre in Illinois, and in Germany, four Villages have been selected that are close to the company’s offices. For example, one employee in Munich volunteers to help a child with their school homework on a weekly basis.
Earlier in 2015, SThree also helped the emergency relief efforts in Nepal, following the devastating earthquakes. Company-wide dress down days and other initiatives raised over £11,000 for 86 ‘Home in Box’ kits with essentials for families to restart their lives.
Most recently, SThree has funded a school bus in Syria to help transport children safely, along with support for refugees arriving in Europe.
If you want to find out more about our inspiring CSR initiatives 2015, watch this video.