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New app brings countless opportunities

Young people in Birmingham and Solihull are the first in the UK to access thousands of life-changing virtual work experience, volunteering, learning, and entrepreneurship opportunities as part of a new app launch from educational equality charity Speakers for Schools.

Working with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), the Youth Card app will allow young people to access thousands of virtual work experience placements being offered by local and national businesses, while offering hundreds of bespoke perks and discounts on health, retail, food and drink, education, travel and more.

Ahead of the national rollout in June, the Youth Card is being piloted in Birmingham to provide work and volunteering opportunities, including Midland Metro Alliance, Fusion and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

The work experience portal aims to give young people access to countless opportunities in Birmingham, while allowing employers to grow their talent pipelines. The app also offers over 100 exciting discounts, including Illamasqua, Cass Art, Collins and Camp Thailand.

The pilot is designed to finetune the app at a local level, enabling Speakers for Schools to collate feedback from young people, teachers, employers and businesses ahead of the national rollout. Birmingham was chosen for its strong communities of young people and variety of industries, providing an ideal region to trial an app of this nature.

Omaima (aged 17), from Birmingham, is keen to get more access to work experiences and says: “Sometimes you are set on one career path without fully understanding it, and doing work experience can make you realise you are more interested or well suited to a different industry or job. My work experience with Speakers for Schools has allowed me to get to know a new industry and I would love the opportunity to learn about more potential career pathways.”

Jason Elsom, chief executive officer, Speakers for Schools, comments: “The pandemic has affected everyone, but the impact has not been equal. Young people have suffered through restrictions, disruptions, and cancellations in many areas of their lives particularly related to education. Our charity is committed to levelling the playing field for school students of all backgrounds and working with GBSLEP will enable us to work closely with schools and leading companies across the region to provide life-changing opportunities for young people.

“We are really pleased with the response we have had so far. This is a great opportunity for businesses to re-open their doors to the local community and for young people to find these experiences on their doorstep.”

Once downloaded, the Youth Card app helps to level the playing field for young people giving them the opportunity to explore the world of work and get money off the products and services which can help them along the way.

Helen Higson, chair of GBSLEP Employment and Skills Board, said: “The Youth Card pilot is a great initiative to encourage our young people to take up work experience opportunities in Birmingham. The last 12 months have been extremely hard for our young population. Education has been interrupted, apprenticeships have been cancelled and jobs have been lost.

“Here at Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Partnership we are working with our partners in the public, private and academic sectors to ensure skills training is matched to the needs of employers.  

“We therefore urge businesses across the GBSLEP region to get involved and offer up placements. It is so important that our young people are given the opportunity to get real-world experience. We realise businesses have been working hard to survive the pandemic, but it is equally important to ensure the next generation of our workforce has the right skills and experience so that we can all emerge from Covid-19 and build an inclusive and sustainable economy in our region.’’

Speakers for Schools is the European Youth Card Association (EYCA) member for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This grants Speakers for Schools and its strategic partners, UK Youth and Young Enterprise, the sole right to distribute EYCA Youth Cards across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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