Opportunity Knocks for young jobless

Angelena Boden with some of the youngsters who took part in Opportunity Knocks

Angelena Boden with some of the youngsters who took part in Opportunity Knocks

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THIRTEEN aspiring young men, desperate to be employed, have ‘graduated’ with honours from an intensive four week preparation for work in the service sector programme.

That’s the honour bestowed on them by training expert Angelena Boden, for their hard work, determination to succeed and above all a measurable change in mindset and behaviour.

They are categorised as NEETs (not in employment, education or training). Angelena said these young people find themselves labelled, categorised and stigmatised because they made some mistakes and didn’t fit in with traditional education. She claimed some are paying for these mistakes and feel that they have no future. As a result, depression and anxiety are becoming more common among young unemployed.

She said: ‘These young men came for the taster day five weeks ago and I believe saw it as just another course.

‘As I am a motivational trainer, not a process trainer, with a strong background in self esteem and confidence building, I knew it was important to build them up from the inside rather than just immerse them solely in skills training. We had almost 100 per cent attendance and punctuality, even from those travelling in from Ramsey and the south.’

The programme, which developed skills in customer service, communication, managing emotions and behaviour, culminated in an ‘Opportunity Knocks’ style show at The Rutland Hotel, Douglas, where they presented their group business ideas to a discerning panel.

This comprised Howard Parkin, Manx National Heritage and Sharon Kissack of Ambitions and chaired by Ann Clayton, chartered director.

The young entrepreneurs, many of whom are overcoming personal and emotional challenges, impressed the judges with their professional pitches and work ethic.

These included ‘Refurb’, an environmentally-friendly business taking cast- off furniture and remodelling it for sale.

Another was ‘Edible Cookbooks’ which received warm expressions of interest by the invited audience and ‘Classic Football Programmes’, an exclusive business selling a range of football programmes, including signed ones, for fans who can’t get to

matches. ‘Suitable Suits’ was the brainchild of a group who were sent out on an assignment and became passionate about the need to supply rental suits for the unemployed so they could present themselves well at interview.

The group appealed to members of the audience for donations as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The youngest entrepreneurs, aged 16, put forward their business called ‘It Catches the Eye’; an online personal artwork service, to demonstrate their special talents in drawing.

In summing up the presentations, Ann Clayton said: ‘I felt really privileged to be on the panel at the Opportunity Knocks presentation.

‘I had seen these young men, some of whom classed themselves as “losers” at the beginning of their journey, not sure what they were committing to. At this final event they stood before an audience of strangers and presented themselves and some very interesting business ideas.

‘Some were terrified but faced their fears with courage and maturity and were a real credit to their trainer. I sincerely hope that local employers will think hard about how they can provide supportive opportunities to these admirable young people.’

All of the group commented they had grown in confidence, had done tasks they would have refused to do at school and felt they had been treated with respect by the training team.

‘It’s time to grow up and be responsible,’ said Daniel Taylor.

Anisa Haghdadi, Birmingham Young Professional of Year (Aspiring Talent) winner 2012 and an entrepreneur since the age of 15 was the guest speaker. She stressed the need for young people to believe in themselves and to go looking for opportunities rather than waiting for them to come knocking.

Andrew McKinley, employment services manager, said: ‘The Department of Economic Development is keen to support a range of training courses, especially those which will give the best start to young people of the island and improve their future prospects.’

The group will move on into suitable work placements with the help of Geoff Le Page, industry liaison manager with Transforming Training and Emma Cain of the Department of Economic Development.

l If you are an employer keen to give young people a helping hand, contact emma.cain@gov.im

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