Written by Senior Career Development Consultant, Dr Oliver Jenkin PGCE RCDP

Over three weeks in September and October 2020, CSW Group delivered its My Choices project, an online programme of nine short webinars developed in partnership with the Career and Enterprise Company and Heart of the South West LEP. Each webinar focused on a different topic related to career development or employability and was targeted towards electively home educated young people who had just completed Year 11 and were preparing for the workplace.

Many businesses have had to use technology creatively to continue delivering their services during the Covid-19 lockdown period and beyond and CSW Group has been no exception, maximising the potential of such technology to ensure our clients can access the highest quality career education and guidance. The wider impact of Covid to the job market has also underlined the importance of individuals having effective career management skills to adapt to a less certain economy and this is something that we tried to convey in these webinars, albeit in a manner accessible to a wide range of young people, including those with learning difficulties.

Each webinar was only 20 minutes in length and was pitched to be as accessible as possible for a wide range of young people, including those with learning difficulties. Our first session offered an overview of the skills and personal qualities that employers value in employees and covered ways that young people can identify what they can offer employers. This highlighted many skills such as creativity, problem solving and active learning that will grow in importance in coming years, a process that arguably has been accelerated by the impact of Covid-19 on the job market.

The second session focused on resilience, a quality that has always been vital to help young people (and adults) adapt to the radical shifts in the job market occasioned by economic crises, technological change and (more recently) Covid. The impact of Covid-19 lockdown on mental and emotional health has been widely reported, so this was an important session to include early in the series.

Session three complemented the first session on skills and personal qualities by focusing in more detail on what employers look for in an employee and practical ways in which young people can develop and evidence these. Sessions four and five in turn focused on the practicalities of applying for jobs and succeeding in an interview situation, offering a wealth of practical advice for young people who might be engaging with the job application process for the first time.

The sixth session looked at social media, something that most young people use in their day to day lives but which they do not always relate to the world of work and how they might be perceived by employers. This webinar covered both the risks inherent to the careless use of social media, as well as ways in which social media can be used constructively to search for jobs, network and enhance one’s employability.

Session seven considered volunteering as a readily available means for young people to gain work experience, try out different types of work and develop skills that are transferable to other situations, while the eighth session looked at apprenticeships and offered a useful overview of that an apprenticeship is, different types of apprenticeships and how to go about finding apprenticeships. This session also highlighted traineeships as another option worth considering that has recently been boosted by the Government as part of the support they are offering to young people to help them get a foothold in a post-lockdown job market.

The final, ninth webinar was a Question and Answer session with employers and training providers that offered authentic insights into employers’ expectations of young employees and their advice to young jobseekers. Representatives from a local further education college also offered a helpful overview of the range of progression options available to young people being Year 11, including those with no or few qualifications.

Feedback from this webinar series from attendees and panellists has been very positive and has illustrated to us as a company that there is a place for high-quality webinar delivery alongside the more traditional career guidance delivery methods that have already gained us a high reputation in the South West of England and further afield. This is particularly important for the main audience for these webinars, as many home educated young people may not have had access to some of the content of these webinars otherwise. As a forward thinking provider in careers education and guidance landscape, we hope to continue using technology in innovative ways to support all our young clients over the Covid period and beyond.

CSW were recognised in the CDI’s fortnightly Facebook podcast #WeAreCareers as delivering outstanding, inspirational and creative approach’s to careers work through our My Choices webinars.

You can view the entire My Choices Webinar series on our YouTube channel, click here.