Bristol's young people get references for 'good character'

Young people often complain about the difficulty of getting their first job because they are asked for a reference.  As 17 year old Victoria Beaton from St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College says, “you get asked for a reference, but no one gets that you can’t get a reference until you have had a job”.

We think we've hit upon a solution.  Over the past few weeks we have been bringing young people together with over 100 business volunteers who have interviewed them about what they have been doing with Envision.  They've then drawn out the best examples to illustrate six qualities known to be valued by employers and created a reference for the young people to use in job and university applications.  

Chris Cook, [pictured left] local representative of the Freemasons Grand Charity, who are a major supporter of the programme, says  “The problem is that most of the young people are not very good at being able to express their achievements in a way which is likely to impress a prospective employer and most of them don’t understand that the qualities they've developed through thier projects are a real selling point.  They think exams are all that matters and I want them to know that’s not the case.  Obviously the best people to help them do that are employers; they know what they are looking for. 


“It’s such a simple, but highly effective, idea.  The young people have done some really great things on this programme and they should be proud of themselves.


I spoke to a young person who’s project was recruiting extra volunteers for local homeless support charity Nightstop. The resilience she showed during their project really inspired me, and I was impressed by what she had achieved.”  

Helen Hancock, partner from local law firm Simmons & Simmons agrees. “We are really keen to give our staff time to volunteer in the community.  Community-Apprentice is a great way for them to use their experience and understanding to make a real difference for young people in just a couple of hours. I would encourage every company in Bristol to get involved in this great initiative and together we can prepare more Bristol young people for work with a reference like this.”

Victoria says, “it was brilliant to have someone write a reference like this for me.  Everything in it is true, but I never realised I was that good.  They know how to bring the good bits of me out.   The thing I most learned was when someone asks you if you are good at something like problem solving, you need to be able to give them a really specific example.  Doing Community- Apprentice gives you loads of stuff because it’s designed to help you develop these things, but you need to know how to talk about it. I’ll definitely be using this to help me to get a job.”