AMAZON and Barnardo’s have launched their JOBS (Journey of Becoming Successful) project which supports young people, many of whom are care experienced, develop the skills needed to secure work and develop their careers.
The aim is to help prepare young people, aged 18-29, who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) and follows successful pilot schemes at Amazon fulfilment centres, which has seen 83% of participants finish the course and secure full-time work or a return to education.
In addition to the four pilot locations at Tilbury, Gateshead, Coventry and Dartford, launches will take place in Greater Manchester, Dunfermline and Swansea later this year. A further three locations will be announced in 2024. That means by 2025 the partnership will have helped a total of 500 young people since the JOBS Project began.
Twenty-four-year-old Matt Woodall, who works at the Amazon fulfilment centre in Tilbury, had been unemployed for a year before engaging with JOBS. Like many young people who struggle with their self-esteem, he felt he had few talents to offer prospective bosses.
“It was my confidence that I lacked,” he said, “all the skills that I didn’t know I had, that I didn’t understand that I had.“
Matt spent his year of unemployment feeling unsure about how he would re-enter the workforce. After a while, his jobs coach recommended joining the 10-week JOBS programme. The experience was transformative for Matt, with his coach saying he was “totally different” after it ended.
Speaking about the support he received through JOBS and the impact it had on his life, Matt said: “When I first joined Amazon, I was very shy. I didn’t talk to a lot of people; I didn’t really want to do anything that would make me stand out. After I completed the course, I can now say that I’m confident and I know what I want to do in the future.“
Alex Perkins, Amazon’s Workforce Engagement Placement Manager, who developed the partnership, said: “While the programme was originally designed to support care-leavers into work, the JOBS project has now expanded to include any young person aged 18-29 who is not in education or employment and feels at risk of that situation becoming long-term.
“We’re encouraging young people to think about where they want to go, and if that’s Amazon, that’s fantastic, if it’s somewhere else, then perfect because they’ve had the opportunity to pick for themselves what they want to do. Matt is the perfect example of the partnership transforming a life.”
Barnardo’s CEO, Lynn Perry MBE, said: “The cost-of-living crisis means that many more children and young people are growing up in poverty and missing out on opportunities, which affects their future prospects. We are delighted that through our partnership with Amazon, we can now help even more young people across the UK to build routes into employment and education within their local community thanks to the expansion of our JOBS Project.”
Amazon’s UK country manager John Boumphrey said: “I am exceptionally proud of our partnership with Barnardo’s. We believe in the potential of all young people and know that Amazon is a place their careers can start, grow and thrive. Working alongside Barnardo’s we have seen the programme grow from strength to strength and, most importantly, it’s having an incredible impact on the lives of young people.
“This initiative is unique in the level of support it provides and I am immensely proud of both the young people themselves and of our Amazon team which is making great strides to improve and expand its reach.”
Over 40 per cent of young people leaving care are classified as NEET and face a wide range of issues including self-harm, homelessness, mental health, debt and money management, self-esteem, ADHD, and autism, as well as young people caring for parents.
Amazon funds 10 weeks of pre-employment training for candidates with the aim of a permanent job at the company or another employer at the end of the course. The JOBS Project focuses on building up the confidence, mental and physical health, and skills of young people to enable them to achieve their full potential.
The JOBS Project has supported 65 young people since 2021. The participants came from a diverse range of backgrounds but have all have experienced challenges in their lives. Around 95% of participants in 2022 felt that, as well as employability skills, they had learned life skills that they can transfer into the world of work.
The course is designed to be more welcoming and informal than a school setting, which is an environment where many of these young people have struggled. You can find out about the scheme and how to apply at barnardos-ets.org.uk/centre/the-jobs-project
Amazon provides competitive pay, comprehensive benefits and a modern, safe and engaging work environment for its employees, with roles paying a minimum of £11.45 per hour. Amazon employees can also take advantage of Amazon’s pioneering Career Choice programme, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon.
Amazon also provides opportunities to improve existing skills or learn new ones through internal career progression opportunities such as cross-training, transferring to a different department and promotion into a managerial role.