Giving youngsters the skills to help them on to career ladder



Aspiring Alan Sugars have been put through their paces during a work experience placement with a FTSE 100 company, thanks to a charity which improves the lives of people growing up in deprived neighbourhoods.

Shoaib Ahmed, Henry Owusu, Darren Owusu and Asia Haidari, who have all grown up in Southwark and Lambeth, spent a week learning the ropes at St James’s Place Wealth Management, working at its prestigious offices in Piccadilly and Canary Wharf.

The company, which has more than £83billion of client funds under management, provided the opportunity as part of its partnership with Active Communities Network, an award-winning charity which uses sport, art and cultural activities to turn around the lives of young people across the UK.

The ambitious students were put through their paces with daily workshops focusing on the fundamentals of office life, covering everything from basic administration to how best to organise their time.

The week culminated with the candidates gaining an accredited business management qualification. Darren, 22, a former pupil at Bishop Thomas Grant School in Lambeth, said he hoped to own his own business and has started a business administration apprenticeship.

He said: “I can definitely say this work experience programme was highly enjoyable and beneficial to me.

“I found the workshop on Marketing and Developing Your Personal Brand really useful. I can use the concept of ‘adding value’ in order to help me achieve my future goals.”

Shoaib, 18, who has set her sights on a career in IT project management and business, said she picked up useful networking skills during the placement.

The Walworth Academy pupil said: “My next steps are to finish my A-levels and then go to university.

“This experience will help with my UCAS application and has confirmed I am pursuing the right career.”

Active Communities Network and St James’s Place have worked together since 2008 to develop Urban Stars – a programme which reaches out to marginalised young people through sport. Case workers help youngsters back into education and eventually into jobs.

Next year the organisations hopes to expand the work experience programme to offer more opportunities in London and Belfast.

Oliver Mansfield from St James’s Place Wealth Management said: “Through our relationship with the Urban Stars programme our company has an excellent opportunity to help young people by providing them with the necessary skills and insight that are often untaught in schools, representing a life-changing opportunity and one that we should be fully behind.

“It also ties in with one of the core principles of St James’s Place and its charitable foundation: giving something back.”

Active Communities Network chief executive Gary Stannett said: “Every day we meet young people who, with the right support and opportunities, could go on to make a better life for themselves and their families.

“Our partnership with St James’s Place is giving young people essential experience to help them on to the career ladder and into a fulfilling working life.

“We are so proud of these students and wish them well in their future careers.”

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