- Focus is on developing participants' transferable skills and gaining work experience
- Last year, 80 per cent had a positive outcome, and eight gained apprenticeships
Disadvantaged young people in Kent are being helped back into sustainable education, employment and training through a range of support programmes offered by charity CXK.
Established in 2002, CXK aims to develop young people's skills, build their confidence and help them achieve their potential in the classroom and the workplace.
Young people aged 16 to 25 can apply to join either of their two programmes which have been designed to help them progress to an apprenticeship, job, training or education placement.
The 12-week Elevate and CXK's Prince's Trust Team programmes, which are offered free of charge, are held three times a year. While Elevate normally runs in Canterbury but accepts applications from young people in the surrounding areas, the Prince's Trust Team programme is held at a variety of locations across Kent.
Kellie Major, CXK's assistant director of training and development programmes, says around 15 young people are accepted for each intake but numbers fluctuate throughout the year. The highest numbers are in November because "young people have tried college and it didn't work out for them", she explains.
Young people accepted onto programmes, many of whom have had previous negative experiences of education, find the programme environment to be "very different" to school or college.
"Because of this we find that they attend well," says Major. "The aim is to build their confidence and prepare them for their next steps whether that's an apprenticeship or other progressions."
Elevate enables applicants to gain GSCE functional skills qualifications in English and maths and is run by two members of staff who also provide pastoral support and employability skills to the group.
Major says the Prince's Trust Team programme, led by a team leader and assistant, is similar but has a greater emphasis on using teamwork to improve young people's confidence.
"We also want them to make a meaningful and positive contribution to their communities so they get involved in projects such as helping in a care home or a youth centre," says Major.
While both programmes offer a period of work experience, the type and length of placement is "very individualised" and based on a young person's needs.
"Our staff are good at assessing them in the beginning to see what their barriers are, what support needs they have and then to develop an individual learning plan for them," says Major.
Referrals for the programmes come from agencies and support organisations across Kent, parents and young people who self-refer.
Major says there are a range reasons why young people haven't achieved in mainstream education. "Some of them are looked-after children, others are those that youth offending teams have referred to us - we plan a programme to support those different needs," she adds.
Ethan Button turned to CXK for help in September when he was rejected from college for not having the right English qualification to get onto a childcare course. He joined the Elevate programme to improve both his qualifications and employability chances.
"Working in small groups and having lots of one-to-one support from my tutors has helped me achieve good results in my qualifications," he says.
Following a successful work experience placement at a nursery, Ethan has since been offered an apprenticeship role there.
"Elevate, and especially my work experience, has given me the confidence and experience as well as practical opportunities which have enabled me to be successful in gaining my apprenticeship. I'm excited for what the future holds," he says.
Between September 2017 and August 2018, 117 young people took part in the Elevate and Prince's Trust Team programmes, of which more than 80 per cent moved into a "positive outcome" such as education, training or work placement. Eight young people secured an apprenticeship, and Major believes this offers a good route for young people who may have experienced setbacks in their education.
"Being in an environment where they are learning on the job compared to being in a classroom all the time is great for them - it's a good first step for a lot of our young people," she adds.