Kier Group has gained an award that acknowledges its commitment to improving the employment chances of young people leaving care. Awarded by the Catch22 National Care Advisory Service, the From Care2Work Quality Mark was presented to just nine organisations, with Kier being one of only three private sector businesses to be recognised.
The Quality Mark demonstrates an organisation's dedication to providing work opportunities that are supportive and effectively monitored, ensuring a quality employability experience for care leavers.
Young people leaving the care system are often disadvantaged and underperform at school and, as a result, are under-represented in further and higher education. This can have a dramatic influence on their ability to secure and maintain sustainable careers and can severely restrict their development and future happiness.
Kier has a history of supporting children in care and care leavers, and has worked with From Care2Work since the programme started. The company has long pledged its support for care leavers as part of its long-term partnerships with local authorities, and its support staff are specially trained to deal with issues that may need to be overcome and mentoring young people in the workplace.
The really special thing about the From Care2Work Quality Mark is that young people were involved in developing the criteria for the award, and therefore it reflects what they themselves view to be important to support them into employment.
One care leaver, who is employed on a Kier apprenticeship programme, explained how Kier was able to help him: “My apprenticeship at Kier has given me experience in all parts of the business, improving both my organisational and communication skills. Throughout my apprenticeship I have had a lot of support from my manager and this has helped me to overcome any problems faced, both personally and at work.”
Kier head of corporate responsibility, Teresa Jolley, who oversees Kier's work with care leavers, said: “We invest a significant amount of time in supporting our local authority clients with their work with young people and it's fantastic to have that commitment recognised by this national Quality Mark. At Kier we take the concept of corporate parenting very seriously and we understand how valuable the opportunity to develop in a supportive environment can be to young people. The fact that young care leavers themselves have been involved in deciding the criteria is particularly valuable to us, as it shows that we really are going in the right direction with the support that we provide. We strongly believe in the importance of instilling in young people the confidence to take on challenges and inspire them to believe in their ability to aim higher.”