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At-risk students become co-designers of a new employability resource

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When searching for a way to assist those at risk of being not in education, employment or training (NEET), Stephan Carrick-Davies did something that had not been tried before: he asked those students at risk to solve their own problem.

Before you write that angry tweet, all is not quite how it seems. While Carrick-Davies did indeed ask the students to seek their own solutions, he did so as part of a programme that aimed to put young people at risk of being NEET at the centre of the strategy to help, rather than them being passive in an intervention done "to them". They became co-designers of a new employability resource called Facework.

The latest government figures show that 10.2 per cent of 16-18-year-olds in England are NEET.

To try and reduce that figure, Carrick-Davies, a consultant and former CEO of Childnet International, set out with the Inclusion Trust and the Worktree organisation to try and find a fresh solution. They decided that the best way of finding something that would have a real impact was to work with those at risk directly – along with their teachers in the pupil referral units.

"We recognised early on that to really help students we needed to move the focus away from creating information about jobs (there are lots of online resources doing this) and instead focus on demystifying the employment intelligences and attitudes employers say they want," says Carrick-Davies.

The end result was Facework, which launched at the end of last month and was funded by the Nominet Trust.

Facework is co-designed by the students and consists of a set of resources to recognise and develop employable skills young people already possess and explain their relevance to the workplace. The resources are grouped into five key employability skills that form the handy acronym STEPS: self-management, team work, enterprising, problem solving and speaking and listening.

Free for schools to use, these resources are designed to be utilised within existing sessions teachers run on helping young people get into work. They include PowerPoint presentations, peer assessment scratch cards, challenge sheets and a set of "Flip Your Thinking" case studies.

Carrick-Davies admits that Facework is not an “off-the-shelf completed resource” and that there may be challenges tackling this issue within schools. However, he remains confident about the positive impact it can have on a young person’s future.

He says: "Teachers know instinctively that if they can help shape students’ behaviours and attitudes for the adult world of work and prepare them on how to take responsibility, manage emotions, handle rejection, take initiative and show respect, they can significantly improve a child’s future and their social mobility."

Facework is also supported by the exam board OCR and more information can be found by visiting

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