There are 622,000 young people in the UK who are not in jobs, education or training currently, according to The Prince’s Trust, the youth charity that supports 13- to 30-year-olds. With the fresh produce sector always crying out for new talent, the opportunity to work with the organisation on recruitment is obvious. Produce Business UK speaks with Vicky Yorke, Outcomes Manager, to learn about the plethora of ways fresh fruit and vegetable firms can get involved and benefit
Established in 1976, The Prince’s Trust helps youngsters who are unemployed or struggling at school to transform their lives. Last year the organisation supported more than 56,000 young people in a bid to turn around their lives. Out of every four people the charity works with, three achieve a positive outcome; either moving into jobs, education or training.
Read some of the charity’s young people success stories here.
Recruiting from The Prince’s Trust
But many industries may not have considered The Prince’s Trust as a pool for recruitment. Although perhaps best well-known for its Enterprise programme – which supports young people who want to start their own business – the charity also helps to train a diverse range of youngsters who are looking for entry-level work.
“The Prince’s Trust works with a range of bright, enthusiastic and work-ready young people who would make a great addition to a company looking for fresh talent,” Yorke explains. “If you have plans to grow your business, placing the right team around you is essential. By getting involved with us, companies can meet a whole new, diverse and talented workforce they probably haven’t considered before.”
Yorke says it simply comes down to getting the message out there and creating opportunities. “The Prince’s Trust works with amazing young people and a huge range of talent,” she adds. “While we can help support them to gain skills and confidence, we need companies to partner with us to create opportunities. An entry-level job can change a young person’s life. We invite businesses to think outside the box about how they can get involved.”
Next month, on March 10, The Prince’s Trust will bring 12-15 young people to the Fresh Careers Fair in London – a brand new recruitment event for the horticulture and agriculture sectors of the UK production, foodservice, retail, culinary and wholesale industries, which is being organised by the team behind Produce Business UK.
“The group attending the fair will have finished a one-week programme called Get Started with Cooking,” Yorke reveals. [Find further details on the course later in this article.] “They will have learnt a variety of skills – from practical cooking, knife techniques and baking to healthy eating and a Level 2 hygiene certification. They are all eager and looking for work, so coming to the show will be really inspirational.”
The Prince’s Trust fully encourages companies to meet its young people face to face. This is especially important for small businesses that are looking for the right team member rather than being so focused on qualifications, according to Yorke.
“If companies only recruit online they don’t see the young people for who they really are,” she notes. “It is very hard to see how passionate a young person is, especially if they have no previous experience in writing a covering letter or a C.V. It can be a huge obstacle.”
To help put companies in touch with its youngsters and facilitate recruitment, The Prince’s Trust runs several Get Hired days across the country. Featuring 15-minute interviews, the drives are designed to remove the barriers associated with the traditional non-facing recruitment process.
“Our Get Hired days are happening more and more and on a national level,” Yorke explains. “We recently hosted one with 53 young people and 18 different business. There were 150 interviews and the feedback from companies was great – in one afternoon they met a whole new talented workforce.”
Read how businesses have benefitted from The Prince’s Trust here.
Acquiring skills and training
Before placing its youngsters in front of prospective employers, The Prince’s Trust runs various programmes and courses of different lengths that focus on confidence building, personal development and skills attainment to ensure the young people are work-ready.
Subsequently, many that are involved with the charity are looking for businesses that are able to offer them the next step, such as entry-level jobs, apprenticeships, internships or even work experience – all of which the charity can support.
“We run a range of free programmes which give young people the practical and financial support they need to stabilise their lives,” Yorke points out. “We help them develop key skills, while boosting their confidence and motivation.
“From our 12-week Team programme, which offers qualifications, community projects and practical skills, to our two-week Get Into courses, where young people do work experience and receive training in a specific sector, we help young people to gain the right skills and experience to help them find a job.”
Transferable skills for the produce industry
For the produce industry, Yorke says The Prince’s Trust organises various pre-employment courses in a number of the areas that are relevant for fresh fruit and vegetable related businesses.
“We run a number of courses for young people interested in the food sector, such as Get Started with Cooking for budding chefs or Get Into Food Manufacturing, Get Into Retail, Get Into Hospitality and Get Into Logistics. We also organise courses in food hygiene, logistics and warehousing, and we link with industries where possible to ensure they are recognised qualifications.
“We have young people trained in hospitality, customer service and a range of different transferable skills that would fit into a multitude of roles at produce businesses – from cooking, food and healthy eating through to administration and logistics. We also have creative young people who would be well suited to a social media role.”
Yorke claims the fresh produce industry as a whole is a growing area of interest among Prince’s Trust young people looking for employment.
“This sector opens up even more opportunities for our young people with an interest in food and produce,” she explains. “Hospitality is currently a hot topic among young people, either in terms of becoming a chef, working front of house, as a hostess or an admin assistant. We want young people find roles that they will enjoy and they’re passionate about, so we’re keen to open up new opportunities in sectors like produce.
“We also know there’s a demand for new talent from this industry, and we want to raise awareness about how exciting food and hospitality is to work in as a sector. Young people might not necessarily think roles are open to them in fresh produce, and that’s something we can definitely support the industry with.”
In terms of the types of opportunities produce businesses could offer Prince’s Trust supported young people, the options are endless. Entry-level jobs can provide hands-on experience, as can assistant roles. Apprenticeships serve as the first stepping stone into a career for a young person who has the potential and skills needed for the role, but may lack experience. Work experience placements are also greatly appreciated.
“We’re flexible as long as the young person is in a supportive and positive atmosphere,” Yorke says. “Come and talk to us to let us know what you’re looking for. We can look at the needs of your business and help you decide what role or opportunity would be suitable. We can also help to put together a job description and assess which of our young people would be ideal candidates.”
Funding for small businesses
Among its various recruitment and training projects, The Prince’s Trust is currently looking for small businesses to take part in a pilot wage subsidy scheme across the south west of the UK which, if successful, could be rolled out nationwide.
This opportunity can provide funding to eligible companies who offer employment to a young person seeking support through The Prince’s Trust. Businesses are expected to commit to offering a six- to 12-month entry-level role that will be reimbursed at the London Living Wage for three or six months.
“This is a massive incentive for those companies that are looking for fresh talent but lack the funding,” says Yorke. “It could save a small business up to £8,500 for a talented new team member, plus the young person gets a job opportunity with a decent salary.
“The Prince’s Trust works with really talented young people who have a desire to secure full-time work and this opportunity alleviates some of the pressure faced by small businesses when expanding. We have 20 subsidies still available in London, Bristol or Kent and we look forward to supporting some thriving and exciting small businesses in these areas.”
To be eligible the business must:
- employ 5-50 people
- be located in London, Kent or Bristol
- offer a sustainable entry-level job
- fund the wage for three to six months at London Living Wage (£9.15 per hour)
Find more information on the funding here.
Apply directly to take part in the scheme here.
Get Started with Cooking
One course offered by The Prince’s Trust that fresh produce businesses could get involved with as well as benefit from is the five-day Get Started with Cooking programme, which is run in partnership with Food Academy UK, a business that uses cooking and food to transform and brighten the lives of people in East London.
Read this article published on PBUK last May to learn more about Food Academy UK.
During the week, young people aged 16-25 participate in a variety of practical cooking workshops, including healthy eating, baking and knife skills. They are also given the opportunity to gain a Level 2 Award in Food Hygiene.
At the end of the week, the youngsters put their new skills and knowledge to the test by designing and preparing their own three-course meal for guests at a final celebration event. The course not only aims to improve the young people’s knowledge and skills in cooking, but also to develop their personal and social skills and enable them to plan their next step.
“It’s a culinary course for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are looking to pursue careers in foodservice and hospitality but don’t have the necessary skills or experience,” explains Yorke. “Young people can sign up to get the appropriate training in order to start approaching different hotels and restaurants for jobs.”
Get Started with Cooking runs across the year in different locations. The next course, which finishes on March 4, takes place in Kennington, London. “We invite companies to come and see our young people and their skills for themselves,” says Yorke. “Even if you’re not ready to take on someone new right now, it’s a great opportunity to see first-hand how talented our young people are.”
Other ways to get involved
The Prince’s Trust is always looking for business partners to help support its work, whether that’s helping the charity to save money by offering services in-kind or encouraging employees to donate personally.
The organisation also has a number of sponsorship opportunities throughout the year, which offer a range of benefits and help to showcase corporate brands to wider audiences.
In addition, businesses can become digital ambassadors of The Prince’s Trust by signing up to emails, following the charity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and sharing support with family, friends and colleagues.
“Start engaging with us or put an enquiry through to our team,” invites Yorke. “Look at your businesses – what opportunities could you offer a young person? There are so many different ways businesses can get involved – from a two-week work experience placement to an entry-level role.”