Swindon social enterprise The Platform Project celebrates growth

By Jamie Hill - 27 April 2021

Social Enterprise

The Platform Project continues to grow as it welcomes two new partnership managers to create closer relationships with local employers and further reduce youth unemployment.

  • Sadie (centre) with Michelle and Alison

    Sadie (centre) with Michelle and Alison

The appointments follow the receipt of grant funding from the John Lewis Partnership Community Legacy Fund to help more young people improve their employability prospects at this difficult time.

Figures from the latest Office for National Statistics’ labour market report released in March show almost two thirds of people who lost their jobs during the pandemic are under the age of 25. Nearly half a million fewer young people are in work than a year ago, highlighting the toll this pandemic has had on young people, which is expected to get worse over the following year. 

Sadie Sharp, founder of the project, said: “This additional funding has allowed us to grow our team over the last year as the need for our service is increasing at an astronomical rate. We’re now welcoming Alison Adams and Michelle Simpson to help us to help more young people take their first steps into work or self-employment.”

The Platform Project runs six month long developmental internships in a “training workplace”, where young people accelerate the development of their CV work experience, skills and confidence by running a range of youth led business projects. 

The innovative programme sees interns gain practical experience of managing projects, liaising with clients, organising events, and providing goods and services, all whilst developing transferable employability skills like timekeeping, self-management and goal setting. The interns then have a vocational mentor who helps them take their next steps into work or self-employment, and this is where the partnership managers come in. 

Sadie said: “With the help of Alison and Michelle, we’re now in the fortunate position of being able to rapidly scale up the connections we have with local businesses and freelancers. Our interns need to interact with external professionals to learn specialist skills, hear how they built their careers, and have access to work experience, shadowing and interview opportunities in local companies in order to transition into work. 

“We are providing a platform for young people to transition effectively, but it will take a community effort to create enough opportunities to make a dent in the increasing level of youth unemployment. We currently have a success rate of 80-90% of getting young people into work, education or self-employment, but we’d like to increase this to 100%!”

Alison and Michelle’s responsibility will be to develop meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with local corporates, small businesses, and freelancers to provide a range of career development opportunities that help the interns take their next steps into the world of work.  

Andy Langley, CEO at Swindon specialist IT company Ntegra, was one of the project’s first employer partners. 

He said: “We wanted to get involved with The Platform Project because we have a strong CSR commitment to support our local community, but I’ve been really impressed at what the project can do. Our staff have developed great skills from becoming mentors, and the work experience opportunities are introducing us to entry level talent that is much more capable than we would be able to hire on the open market. We’re looking forward to full employment opportunities as our relationship progresses!”

Michelle Simpson, who lives in Old Town, Swindon, has over 30 years experience in procurement, relationship management, leadership and innovation. She said: “I have followed The Platform Project from its early stages and have been so impressed by the impact and work that it does. I have a personal desire to use my knowledge and personal experience of working with large corporates to find sustainable employment opportunities for those young people, who maybe haven’t yet had the opportunities to reach their full potential.

Alison Adams, who lives in Old Town, has over ten years’ experience in the charity sector. Her first role out of university was as a volunteer coordinator with the Swindon Youth Offending Team.  

She said: “I am looking forward to developing relationships with a variety of local businesses to provide a wide range of work experience and employment opportunities and mentoring for The Platform Project’s interns, and really tailoring those relationships to their business needs. It is a fantastic opportunity to make a real tangible difference to the lives of young people in Swindon whilst also being able to access highly skilled entry level talent.”

Anyone who is interested in talking to Alison or Michelle can do so by contacting them at [email protected] For more information about The Platform Project visit www.PlatformProject.co.uk

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