THE Exeter & Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board is working with local employers and colleges to develop a new award to help young people gain core employability skills.
To kick off the process, a competition has been launched to devise a brand for what is currently called the Employability Challenge Award. Further education and sixth-form students studying design-related subjects in Exeter and Devon are invited to create a corporate identity for the award to appeal to both young people and employers looking to recruit.
Employers often report that they struggle to recruit young people due to the lack of five key employability skills: communications skills; team working skills; organisational skills; problem-solving skills and customer service skills.
The Employability Challenge Award aims to empower young people by challenging them to prove they have developed these skills, with practical advice offered along the way by mentors from local businesses.
It is hoped young people taking part in the scheme will end up better equipped to progress into work or further learning, and local businesses will have a pool of young people who are prepared for work.
Two of the companies already on board in developing the award are Exeter-based Interserve and The Really Good Recruitment Company.
Richard Ellis, South West director of Interserve Construction and chairman of the EHOD Preparing for Employment Working Group, said: "The aim of the Employability Challenge Award is to work with young people to help them gain skills in the core areas that employers look for when recruiting.
"When a potential candidate achieves the award, we as employers will be able to identify those applicants who have applied themselves to build their employability skills, many of which can be hard to identify on an application form.
"Because this pilot process is giving employers and students the chance to work together, we are creating an award that will give young people the opportunity to prove their skills for work and help employers to pick them out."
Hannah Ellis Murdock, director of The Really Good Recruitment Company, added: "As a recruiter, we understand that employers are looking for more than just qualifications; they want people who have the right attitude as well as aptitude.
"The Employability Challenge Award is a great way of students being able to demonstrate their commitment and a proactive approach to potential employers, as well as giving them a better understanding of what employers are looking for.
"At a time of high youth unemployment, initiatives like this are a great way of engaging with young people and giving them employment related skills to help them into a rewarding career."
The project will be piloted with 100 students from selected colleges working towards the award, supported by 20 employers. The winner of the competition will gain experience of working with employers in developing the brand identity, which will be used for the pilot project launch in early 2013.
More information can be found at: www.exeter.gov.uk/ehod-esb.