Mayor launches drive to help young people's job prospects

03 June 2014

Young Londoners are being offered the opportunity to gain valuable experience and increase their future employability as a result of two new volunteering schemes being launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to coincide with National Volunteers’ Week (1st – 7th June).

Team London, the Mayor’s citywide volunteering initiative, has teamed up with youth and community charity The Challenge to launch HeadStart London, a programme designed for 16 – 18 year olds who are still in full-time education. They are encouraged to commit to 16 hours volunteering in their local area as a means of gaining valuable experience to prepare them for employment.

Volunteering helps young people develop key skills in communication, team work, organisation and self-discipline – all of which are transferable to the world of work. Research has found that 80% of employers value volunteering on a CV and 84% of those responsible for hiring agree that volunteering is a way to help people find work and when recruiting[1].

In addition to volunteering, HeadStart London will offer employability workshops including interview and assessment preparation, communications coaching and a guaranteed interview. Over the next three years the programme will work with around 5,000 youngsters giving them valuable experience to put on their CVs, while communities across the capital will benefit from over 60,000 hours of support.

Starbucks and New Look are two businesses already behind the scheme having seen great results during the pilot, which led to them taking on a number of young people for part-time positions. The Mayor is calling on other businesses to recognise the value in volunteering and how it provides youngsters with vital work-related skills.

A second scheme will see Team London partnering with youth charities City Gateway and Inspire! to support unemployed Londoners aged 16 and over to apply for customer-facing volunteering positions of their choice at sporting and cultural events across the capital. The Team London Volunteers project which is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), will provide training for young people who may not have prior experience of working with the public. In addition to workshops aimed at improving their communication, motivation and confidence, they will be supported to seek sustained employment or education and training opportunities that build on their volunteering experience.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘We want to clear the path between education and work and raise awareness amongst employers that in gaining volunteering experience, young people are also acquainting themselves with the very skills that will set them up to succeed in the workplace.

‘I urge businesses across the capital to get behind these young people and give them a chance to put what they’ve learnt to real and effective use.’

Veronica Wadley, Senior Advisor for Team London, said: ‘Our ambition is to carry on the spirit of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and build momentum for volunteering across the capital. We’ve developed these programmes for young Londoners to get ahead while giving back.’

The Mayor is hosting an event in City Hall on Tuesday 3rd June to mark the 30th anniversary of National Volunteers’ Week and to launch the HeadStart London scheme. He will be joined by speakers Martine Wright, Paralympian and Team London Champion, and Peter Cheese, CEO Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD). Young volunteers from the HeadStart London pilot and HR professionals, who mentor young unemployed people in their own time through CIPD’s ‘Steps Ahead’ programme, will be in attendance. The Mayor is calling on HR departments across the capital to recognise volunteering as valuable experience for work across all sectors.

The Mayor is also encouraging small charities across the capital to apply for Team London’s Small Grants 2014, a programme that allows local volunteering projects to apply for £10,000 in funding to increase impact volunteering at a local community level. Applications should be made through the Team London website

The Mayor also confirmed a new partnership between Team London and to create a website that will make it possible for Londoners to ‘speed’ volunteer for up to 6 hours at a time, finding out about these opportunities via text message and commenting and recommending them via Facebook.


Notes to editors

Team London: Team London is the Mayor of London's ambitious programme to mobilise an army of volunteers across the capital. The aim is to improve life in London through programmes that will reduce crime, increase opportunities for youth and improve quality of life by cleaning and greening London and building stronger neighbourhoods.

HeadStart London: London currently has a youth unemployment rate of 24% and is one of the most socially segregated cities of the developed world[1]. HeadStart London is a Mayoral initiative which seeks to address these issues, by providing young people with a unique pathway to employment. Delivered in partnership with charity, The Challenge and AGL Young People, part of the AGL Communications Group, the programme offers diverse groups of 16-18 year olds the opportunity to build their employability skills through social action projects and dedicated workshops, and rewards social action with interviews for part-time or seasonal work. Young people get a head start for a more positive future by giving back to their local communities.

Team London Volunteers into employment project: Team London is partnering with two established charities to help match unemployed people aged 16 and over from London with high quality support and volunteering opportunities. City Gateway and Inspire! are both charities that have a strong record of working with younger unemployed people and helping them engage in volunteering.

Team London Small Grants 2014: Launched in June the fund will provide grants (of up to £10,000) to groups which demonstrate innovation in terms of:

  • increasing volunteering amongst young people and other groups who may face difficulty in finding suitable opportunities; and/or
  • providing more local volunteering opportunities for the wider community to get involved

Applicants must be able to set out targets for increasing volunteer numbers, impact and satisfaction and will be required to monitor each of these criteria over the lifetime of the project.

European Social Fund (ESF): ESF was set up to improve employment opportunities in the European Union and so help raise standards of living. It aims to help people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects.

The Team London Volunteers into EET Project is part of the 2007-2013 London European Social Fund Programme, which since 2007 and following the review of the Greater London Authority (GLA) powers, has been under the strategic direction of the Mayor. It is administered on his behalf by the European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU), which on 1 July 2011 transferred from the London Development Agency (LDA) to the GLA. is the UK’s largest volunteering website, which connects over 250,000 people every month with communities that need their help. Do-it is owned by the charity ivo.

The new platform in partnership with Team London will be fundamental in helping young Londoners find paid employment by enabling them to build an online CV of their volunteering experiences and use the skills they gain to access to paid work opportunities provided by London employers. They will also be able to look through thousands of volunteering opportunities posted by the capital’s volunteer centres. This new service will form part of the Team London website and is due to launch in the autumn.

NEETS: Academic research has suggested that not only do NEETS place a huge burden on the public purse (estimated to be around £22bn annually), but spending time as a NEET reduces a young person’s average lifetime earnings by £50,000 and has a detrimental impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing[2].

[1] TimeBank -

[1] ONS figures

[2] Impetus Private Equity Foundation – Make NEETS history in 2014