Aim is to instil confidence

21st April 2006 at 01:00
It is just over three months since Urvashi Parekh joined the Entry to Employment programme at Rathbone's training centre in east London and she is already feeling happier about looking for work.

After watching a video on how to prepare for job interviews, she and five other trainees are devising role-play exercises based on the sort of questions they expect to face. "We are meeting a stranger," she says. "We have to be confident."

Ms Parekh, who left school last year without any qualifications, noticed the difference as soon as she began E2E in December. "In school we learnt subjects," she says. "We didn't learn how to communicate with others."

Staff at the centre in Poplar, less than a mile from the business and financial centre at Canary Wharf, are fairly certain that Ms Parekh will complete E2E within the target of 22 weeks. She has demonstrated good key skills and should be in a position to progress to an apprenticeship or a job. But not everyone is so fortunate.

Rathbone argues that many young people require more than 22 weeks to finish E2E. About half of the 60 trainees who attend the Poplar centre are on E2E, with the remainder studying for apprenticeships in business administration or childcare.

Unless they are on a work placement, E2E trainees normally attend the centre from 10am to 4pm, four days a week. The programme covers basic and key skills as well as social and personal development.

Amy Lenderyou, Rathbone's divisional director for London, says a key aim is to help to instil confidence. "People don't come here with the cushion of having gained GCSEs," she says. Youngsters like the fact that classes are less formal than in school."

Rayhan Ali, who finished E2E in February, is currently taking an apprenticeship in business administration. He is sure the earlier course, which included a placement at a solicitors' firm, improved his communication. "I used to find it hard to talk to people and speak good English," he says.

Rathbone uses other funding to help 16 to 18-year-olds who are not referred by Connexions and points to the success of mentoring schemes that encourage previously disaffected young people to consider training or work.

But Ms Lenderyou is concerned that it loses touch with some trainees who do not complete E2E in 22 weeks, while others do not get to hear about the scheme in the first place.

"We need to go out into the community and meet them," she says. "Our charitable aim is to help young people who are farthest away from the jobs market."

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