ACCELERATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR NORTH EAST TEENS

Ryan Gibson reports on how the National Citizen Service (NCS) is supporting schools and enhancing vital careers education – accelerating opportunities for young people in the North East.

At the NCS North East stakeholder group meeting last month, I was encouraged by progress toward a permanent statutory footing for this incredibly important programme. The move is especially welcome here in the North East, a region in which I am extremely proud to say a staggering 95% of our schools are working with NCS right now.

Now the biggest youth movement of its kind, NCS is for 15-17 year olds. Like the Good Career Guidance Benchmarks pilot, for which I am facilitator, its inclusive approach aims to create long-term impact that benefits individuals, schools and communities as a whole. Indeed, the NCS programme is mapped against the eight Benchmarks of ‘good career guidance’. Both programmes seek to improve social mobility, by ensuring that all young people benefit from extended networks of support – whether these are within the community, with information or with employers who can help them.

Many young people have internalised ideas about what ‘people like them’ might do and where they might fit into the education system and the labour market. For some it is about class, for others its ethnicity or gender. Good careers guidance, enhanced by the work of NCS, actively tackles these assumptions by allowing young people to challenge themselves and explore talents they never knew they had. Young people gain the confidence to apply their skills in practical contexts – meaningful experiences that will help them when it comes to applying for jobs or engaging in job, apprenticeship or university applications and interviews.

Through NCS, teenagers gain confidence, leadership and communication skills – as well as resilience and grit – which are vital for employability and life.

Last year alone, teenagers in our region gave over 214,000 hours volunteering through NCS – equivalent to £1million invested into the regional economy. Youth-led community projects offer teenagers compelling real world opportunities to develop and evidence skills that make CVs and UCAS statements stand out. The NCS enterprise agenda produces mature and capable young people.

In addition, when they enter the world of work or university, with all its diversity and challenges, young people are better prepared – thanks to the unique NCS social mix and its focus on stepping out of comfort zones. Wonderfully, the programme also nurtures British values such as tolerance, respect and inclusion; and offers positive outlets and role models for young people.

In our region, NCS is delivered by a partnership of youth charities; V•Inspired and National Youth Agency, working with 13 grassroots organisations right across the region. Since the partnership took on the contract in 2015, nearly 6,000 of our young people have taken part in the scheme.

A dozen North East schools have been lauded for their exemplary support for NCS through the exciting Star Schools Awards whilst over 20 others have scooped Champion School status. Good luck to the many schools already working toward these accolades in 2017.

This year, there are more NCS places than ever before: offering significant investment in developing learners across the region. Schools particularly benefit from the programme’s support with learner progression into work or studies, and they recognise the direct contribution NCS makes to Ofsted judgements.

It’s great to be working together with schools, stakeholders and other partners to help as many North East teenagers as possible access the life-changing experience that is NCS.

Thousands of North East teenagers have already booked their Summer NCS experience. Support young people you work with by engaging and finding out more at NCSNORTHEAST.CO.UK