Kickstart a career for young people on our waterways

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of young people, with schools disrupted, exams delayed and job opportunities for school leavers at an all-time low. Here at the Canal & River Trust we’re more committed than ever to helping young people achieve their goals and realise their potential.

Young apprentices standing in a group Young apprentices working with Canal & River Trust

We’ve been a long-time supporter of youth and community initiatives, and we’re particularly proud of the training, skills and job opportunities we provide for young people. For many, it’s the first step on a long and successful career path.

Help young people take the plunge

With National Apprenticeship Week just around the corner (8 to 14 February), in any normal year we’d be gearing up for our annual apprenticeship recruitment drive. But as we all know things are far from normal. That said, we’re still on the lookout for ambitious, hardworking individuals of any age from 16 upwards to register their interest in joining our team later in the year when, hopefully, some restrictions will have been eased.

It’s a great opportunity to learn new skills, make friends and get some practical, on the job training.

Believe in yourself. Nothing should hold you back

Cameron, Canal & River Trust apprentice
Cameron (second from right) with his fellow construction apprentices

Cameron (pictured second from right), joined our apprenticeship scheme in 2019 and he’s never looked back. As he explains: “Although I was enjoying [college], I decided that the best pathway for me personally was to learn whilst working.” He applied for an apprenticeship with the Canal & River Trust and was invited to attend an interview.

It was then that Cameron began to have doubts. He’d discovered that, as part of the recruitment process, he’d have to take a psychometric test. Cameron is dyslexic and doesn’t always thrive under exam conditions. As he explains: “Being timed and reading paragraphs under pressure… let’s just say they’re not my strengths.”

Aware that his test results could come back to bite him, he explained to the panel that reading and processing information didn’t always come easily. “The HR team were fantastic and supported me all the way,” he tells us. “The staff who interviewed me were also very understanding and told me my dyslexia was not a concern.”

A few days later, he received a call. “I was at home when I got the call to tell me I’d been successful. I was really happy and relieved. It was a mixture of different emotions.” Cameron joined our construction team and now plays an integral role in helping maintain our locks and ensure our canals and towpaths remain open and accessible to everyone.

So, what would he say to other aspiring apprentices? “My advice to anyone applying for an apprenticeship is to believe in yourself. If you have a learning disability, don’t let it hold you back. The support I’ve had has helped me so much… I enjoy picking up skills every day and meeting new challenges.”

Kickstart a young life

Apprenticeships aren’t the only route into work with the Canal & River Trust. Thanks to the government’s Kickstart initiative, we’ve been able to create dozens of new opportunities for 16 to 24-year-olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.

As part of the initiative, we can offer six-month work placements in a variety of different roles, from construction and heritage, to waterways management and digital marketing. Like our apprentices, successful applicants will get to learn on the job, develop new skills and gain valuable experience.

Our canals run through some of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic. As Steve Higham, head of partner & outcomes development at the Trust explains: “It’s particularly important that we offer local opportunities to young people in these communities.”

If you know a young person who is looking for an opportunity, please share this with them, so they can register their interest and find out how the Canal & River Trust can help to kickstart their career.

Last date edited: 3 February 2021

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