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Boris Johnson says volunteering gives young people confidence

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Mayor of London Boris Johnson has hailed volunteering as a path into work at an event to launch the Pathway to Employment initiative HeadStart.

Under the new scheme, young people aged between 16- and 18-years-old are offered a guaranteed interview at participating companies if they complete 16 hours of voluntary community social action. Other elements of the HeadStart programme include employment workshops and communications training.

A pilot scheme of 200 young people has seen 22 find work immediately. In a related survey, 81% said they now believe they have the skills to find a job and 90% said they feel prepared for the world of work. 

Johnson said that young people have the aptitude for work and that this programme will help them by "giving them confidence as well as experience of being in a work environment".

He added that the scheme is also good for business and would help fill a skills gap in London.

“There are 19,000 unfilled vacancies in construction in London,” he said. “And yet in some parts of the capital youth unemployment is as high as 20%. How can this be? Programmes like this, that bring young people together with business, are vital to make sure our young people don’t get left behind.”

Starbucks UK HR director Lisa Robbins, who took part in the pilot scheme, said the programme had significantly increased the employability of candidates. 

“The total success rate for interviewees is around one in five,” she said. “With people who have been through HeadStart it’s around four in five.”

CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said the HR community is “excited about the value that projects like this bring”.