Utilising young people’s potential

By | News & Politics
The Institute Project Team Credit@Alex Gur-Dudek

When envisioning youth work experience commissioned by relevant charities, images of work in the community, soup kitchens and outdoor maintenance may spring to mind. However, The Institute Project is revolutionising the concept – opening up fresh avenues for young adults who are faced with the challenge of unemployment, with a unique new venture.

The founders – award-winning duo James Drummond and Conscian Morgan, have teamed up with The Prince’s Trust to create job and career opportunities for young people in the hospitality industry. With support from some of the most influential names in the bar industry, the pioneers will create a training centre for the next generation of mixologists. Beginning in autumn this year, part of the project will require the chosen team of long-term unemployed young adults to design, build, manage, open and run their very own cocktail bar.

The Prince’s Trust works with unemployed young adults or young people with issues in education aged between 13-30. It works throughout the entire UK and since launching in 1976 has helped over 750,000 people, including 4,850 young people in London. Some of the challenges faced by members include homelessness, mental health illnesses, and those who have experienced situations involving the law. The programmes offered by the Trust function to provide individuals with practical and financial support, heightened self-esteem and vocational skill-sets. 75% of people backed by The Prince’s Trust go on into work, education or training.

Regardless of these efforts, youth unemployment has been a repeatedly reported issue throughout the mainstream media. Recent statistics show that 25% of young adults in London are faced with long-term unemployment and 10,580 young people in London have claimed benefits for more than six months. It could be argued that some coverage on the issue has worked to sustain a challenging stigma of young people who are unemployed. Projects such as this can work towards a more constructive representation of these individuals, and encourage citizens to help.

Expanding charitable work of this kind into flourishing, youth-orientated industries could instigate a breakthrough for youth unemployment and how it is interpreted. Additionally, these programmes can bring together individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, conquering class boundaries and hierarchies, which may create limitations for some. Muhammed Khan, 19, from London said ‘The Institute Project will give me the opportunity to learn new skills and will be a great chance for me to break into the industry’.

The scheme will provide young adults with invaluable work experience, and they will also receive a qualification in mixology backed by the British Institute of Inn-keeping. This will help to enhance their future employability. There are 15 front-running cocktail bars supporting the project, including The London Cocktail Club whose directors are designing the training programme.

The youths will train for one year before being placed in one of the participating bars where they can utilise their new skill set. Participants will be trained to work in each imaginable position involved in making cocktail bar function, from waiting tables, bar backing, general managing, bar managing, cooking, hosting and of course bar-tending.

Whilst the constructive elements of this scheme are commendable, the concept may isolate some potential applicants. As the teams will be working closely with alcohol in an environment, which encourages its consumption, each member will need to be assessed on their eligibility, dependent on their relationship with the substance. Obviously the legal age limit also applies. However, awareness of these programmes may encourage business owners in differing fields to open their doors to youth apprenticeship schemes and help create a plethora of employment options for individuals, allowing them to choose an industry suited to them.

How would you design a Prince’s Trust employment program?

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