The launch of the Alcoa Internship programme at the Pump, last Friday (28th February 2014) provided a wonderful example of partnership working between The Pump, Alcoa, Birmingham City Council and Phoenix Training.
The Pump/Alcoa Internship programme is part of the World Wide Alcoa Foundation Internship programme and in Shard End offers fully-paid 12 week Internship opportunities for up to 50 young people within manufacturing companies, in and around the Shard End area. The goal is to provide unemployed youth with the experience to start a successful career in manufacturing. The programme is open to both young men and young women and Alcoa are keen to see young women engage with this programme and to help them move into the manufacturing sector.
However, before they can engage with the Internship programme the young unemployed people need to become ‘work ready’ and the Birmingham Jobs Fund Exemplar Project, run in Shard End by Phoenix Training, provides that part of this process of engagement.
The stars of the launch were undoubtedly the seven young men who are currently on placement with Phoenix Training. (They are pictured above with the trainers and a female colleague who is championing the programme.) The confidence and enthusiasm of these young men moved all those present. Wearing smart suits, shirts and ties these young men almost appeared to shine when they stood up to tell their stories. Their enthusiasm to find work was a brilliant testament to the work done by the two Phoenix Training trainers who accompanied them. The young men spoke with great confidence about their journey so far (they have only been on 5 weeks of a 12 week course) and how they had gone from being unemployed to vital, spirited, committed young people eager and willing to engage with the world of work!
One particular young man explained how the project had transformed his life. He used to lie in bed until 3pm each day, and took no notice of his mother’s constant exhortations to get up and find a job. It was hard to equate that former lifestyle with the confident young man who stood before us, anxious and eager to move on hopefully into the Internship programme. He now got up at 6am, made his mother a cup of tea before setting out for the training course in order to make sure he got there on time, and consequently always arrived early! Others spoke about the outward bound course they had been on; their visits to Wales; the friendships they had develop and their altruistic desire to get their mates to sign up to the programme by badgering them by text and word of mouth to get down to the Pump or onto the Skills Bus and sign up to the programme.
The event introduced by Charlotte Linforth from The Pump, included various other key speakers who outline their involvement in the project: Nigel Bratt from Alcoa presented a film of the work Alcoa undertake and the kind of career the young men and women who successfully get onto the Internship might expect: Richard Pearce, from Phoenix Training, gave more details of their training programme and Councillor Ian Ward from Birmingham City Council outlined the Council’s commitment – despite the cuts – to keep working to help young people into work and praised the success of this particular Exemplar project.
Clearly the young men present had experienced a life changing event which would stand them in good stead whatever their future turned out to be, a future which they were now in a much better position to determine. The value of such a programme cannot be overestimated and let’s hope that before too long this ‘exemplar’ project becomes ‘mainstreamed’ and the lives of many more of our unemployed young people can be transformed in such a radical and inspiring way!