NOW ON SALE
TALES OF THE TRUST: TEEN AMBASSADORS GAIN EARLY EDGE
The sun is beginning to disappear behind the Smith Cooper stand as a midweek evening draws in at Trent Bridge. At the Pavilion End, the Derek Randall Suite is set up with seven desks, each two metres apart, facing a projector. It has the feel of a corporate set up, but sat at three of the desks are school students, waiting patiently for more to join.
The YouNG project is one of a handful of Trent Bridge Community Trust initiatives. It equips 13 to 21-year-olds with the social and practical skills necessary for a future career by opening their eyes to the world of employment possibilities, offering work experience placements through industry contacts and providing entrepreneurial opportunities through YouNG Markets.
In job markets saturated by prospective hopefuls, YouNG provides the early leg up.
The desks set up in the suite adjacent to the Hound Road Lower stand are for the seven Ambassadors of the project, one for each of the Rushcliffe Borough Council schools: The West Bridgford School, Rushcliffe School, The Becket School, South Nottinghamshire Academy, The Nottingham Emmanuel School, The South Wolds Academy and East Leake Academy.
The 14 and 15-year-olds, all in year ten, have been in paid employment as Ambassadors since September. Their role throughout the school year is to act as the link between their school, their local communities and the YouNG team, disseminating relevant information and opportunities to aid the delivery of the project.
“The Ambassadors are our main marketing tool, because they are our target market,” says Aaliyah Clifford, co-ordinator of the YouNG programme.
“We are engaging with their age group, so they are exactly the people we need. They are at the heart of YouNG, and they give us a lot of promotion.”
"Ambassadors develop their marketing skills, enhance their communication while creating presentations, and manage social media, which is so important in 2021."
It’s a two-way partnership, though, and the Ambassadors themselves stand to learn as much as YouNG stand to gain.
“The project provides experiences to put on a CV and employability skills which put them one step ahead of their peers,” Clifford says.
“They develop their marketing skills, enhance their communication while creating presentations, and manage social media, which is so important in 2021.”
Whilst the Ambassadors themselves concede that some extra cash in the pocket provides ample motivation for taking up the role, the opportunity to enhance their credentials at a young age is equally valuable.
“Once you have a job, you start to earn money and you can spend it how you want, which is nice,” Ben Perkins, Ambassador for West Bridgford School, admits.
“Generally, it is great work experience as well. Most of the jobs you can get at my age are at a shop or doing a newspaper round, which isn’t the same.”
South Nottinghamshire Academy's Kacey Wilson admits that parental encouragement directed her down the path of applying, but echoes the sentiment of important early exposure to the job world.
“I know the experience looks good on my CV,” she says.
“There’s only one of us from each school so it makes us different, makes us stand out.”
Whilst the opportunities to improve digital literacy, communication and organisation are marked, the building of soft skills equally help develop the person within the role, which is at the core of YouNG’s objectives.
"I’ve gained more confidence in myself, loads of my friends have noticed that. And it’s mostly because I have been talking to different people that I had never met."
“We try to create a mix of a few louder students, who you notice by the way they interview, but also some who are quieter, because being with a group of young people who are a little bit more extroverted helps them to come out of their shells,” Clifford reveals.
“We hire those who are confident or are achieving well in school, but also the ones who are a bit shyer, less out-going, to see that difference and give them a chance."
It’s a philosophy vindicated by Morgan Clarke.
“I’ve gained more confidence in myself, loads of my friends have noticed that,” the Ambassador for East Leake Academy admitted.
“It’s mostly because I have been talking to different people that I had never met, and I didn’t have to worry about that interaction because they had been elected for similar reasons.”
The eligible employees may be of tender years, but the selection of candidates doesn’t stray from convention, and whilst it’s an early age to be learning about the cut and thrust job market world, it’s a lesson that stands the students in good stead.
"I thought this year the ambassadors might have struggled with not being face-to-face, but they've been so confident, which just goes to show how comfortable they are online."
“We try to keep the recruitment as professional as possible.” Clifford says.
“It is a normal process of applying for the job. To the students, and to schools, that is important. It’s a big deal.“
"It’s a real application form that is being sent to an employer. They might get shortlisted for an interview, but if they are unsuccessful, we will ring them and tell them why.”
Once employed, though, the group forms a close bond, a facet unhampered by meetings largely taking place over Zoom due to Covid Restrictions.
Wilson quips that her lasting memory of being an Ambassador will be of “being in a square box”, but the launch of the programme over the internet has had its benefits, according to Clifford.
“They are more confident in the session, due to them being online,” she says.
“The Ambassadors have said that if the first session was face to face, they would be more anxious than they were via Zoom. That’s where it has been constructive.
“And they do bounce off each other. I am happy that they have formed a social group. I thought this year they might have struggled with not being face-to-face, but it just goes to show the power of social media, and how comfortable they are online. I think it’s mental, absolutely mental.”
Before long, the final four Ambassadors trickle into the Derek Randall Suite. They are at Trent Bridge for the first time to be given a presentation about The Hundred, set to be staged for the first time this year, with a focus on capturing the imaginations of younger viewers.
They will not only learn about the new format, but form a quasi-focus group – suggesting merchandise that may spread the word about Trent Rockets in their schools, or help cajole peers into attending games.
They will act as the go-betweens for the ECB and the mooted attendees.
It’s the latest venture for the group, who are coming to the end of their time as Ambassadors, their tenure finishing in July. But they, like those before them, have been invaluable to the work of YouNG, and have reaped their own rewards in the process.
Their final task will be to recruit their successors, passing on the baton after a year that has sped by.
It won’t be hard to sell the job, but, with university applications and job interviews on the horizon, it may be that the learnings have their greatest effect in years still to come.
YouNG aim to inspire young people, bridging the gap between industry and schools, helping connect community and professionals to build a future talent pipeline and workforce. For more information about the work they do, have a look at their website.
You can find out more about the Trent Bridge Community Trust here.
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