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Workplace mentors can put young people back on right path of education and training, says Blunkett
According to David Blunkett, positive role models in the workplace could provide the path back into education and training for young people who would otherwise fall into a life of anti-social behaviour or drugs.
Speaking earlier this week in London, as the Government launched its action plan Together We Can, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said for alienated 16 to 17-year-olds who had dropped out of school or college, workplace mentors would provide the leadership and direction needed to get back on the path to skills and better careers.
“Education and training should be the main focus for 16 to 17-year-olds, but for those young people who have been alienated by school or college, we need to look for work place solutions to get them back on track,” said Mr Blunkett.
“Positive role models, acting as mentors in the workplace, could be the first step to re-engaging young people who have dropped out of education and training.
“When 16 to 17-year-olds are outside the world of work or skills, their lives can enter a downward spiral, as the only voices they hear are those leading them into a dark world of drugs, gangs and anti-social behaviour.
“Our job is to ensure we offer them a way out, away from the wrong sort of role models. Once they get into the workplace they will be surrounded by older people, who can mentor them, provide guidance, and offer a route into that crucial education and training for their future.”
The 65-point plan, Together We Can, aims to bring government agencies and the public closer together, as part of a drive to empower local communities and improve quality of life.
Adrian Snook, Operations Director for The Training Foundation, gave The Secretary of State's comments a cautious welcome: "Whilst the motives behind workplace mentoring sound laudable, the devil lies in the detail. Workplace mentors face some very significant challenges which should not be underestimated.
"Effective coaching and mentoring skills are by no means ubiquitous within British business and some form of specialist training for workplace mentors is likely to be required in order to address the special needs of alienated young people.
"The Secretary of State should also remember that employers are hedged in by a forest of employment related legislation which could hamper workplace mentoring. There are also some potential risks and liabilities associated with confusing the conflicting roles of mentor, supervisor and employer."
The Training Foundation recently launched a free national online learning programme specifically designed for young people entering the workplace.
Ready for Work, which the Training Foundation says can assist employers to play their part in mentoring young people, is an employment-awareness programme designed to help young people develop respect, enterprise and responsibility,
The programme has been welcomed by leaders in education and industry, including Sir Richard Branson and Sir Digby Jones, and covers subjects such as showing respect at work, following drugs & alcohol policies, embracing diversity, managing workplace stress and being a responsible employee.
The Ready for Work programme is accessible free-of-charge over the Internet from The Training Foundation's online learning portal: www.readyforwork.org
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