United Utilities hosts mentoring event in Manchester for young unemployed

Young people who struggle with barriers to work heard personal stories from staff and learned interview skills at a special mentoring circles event in Manchester in June.

The event was hosted by United Utilities on National Employability Day (Friday 28 June), as part of its commitment to the government-backed Social Mobility Pledge.

The Department for Work and Pensions launched the mentoring circles initiative last year to tackle employment inequality across the UK. Mentoring events ran in 20 challenge areas with the aim of providing jobseekers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds with support to help them into work. This year it is being rolled out beyond the BAME community across the Jobcentre Plus network nationally for all youth claimants who would benefit.

A total of 28 unemployed people attended the United Utilities event in Manchester City Centre. Of those, 17 were aged between 18 and 24 and the remaining 11 were of varying ages.

On the day, water company staff revealed their own personal stories of successfully overcoming health and other challenges to have fulfilling careers. The participants were also encouraged to talk about their own difficulties in finding employment and take part in role play aimed at helping them improve interview techniques. The day also included hints and tips on writing CVs.

Katie Moffatt, social mobility manager at United Utilities, explained: “This is our first mentoring circles event. We’re hoping it will encourage people from all backgrounds to see United Utilities as a potential employer and help young people maximise their potential, develop their skills and be confident in the workplace. If it helps one young person into work it will have been worth it,” she added.

Julie Newton, United Utilities’ organisation development manager, said: “At United Utilities we want to make sure we are reaching and recruiting from every community and then supporting employees to achieve their full potential.

“As part of our Social Mobility Pledge, and as a disability confident employer, we believe that it’s important to actively mentor people in our communities, who are finding it difficult to find employment, by giving advice, support and building confidence to break down barriers to work.”

United Utilities ran the session independently and is also supporting additional Warrington, Liverpool and Blackburn mentoring circle events later this year.

In June, Katie Moffatt, Julie Newton and United Utilities’ director of people and customer services, Louise Beardmore, met the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP at the Houses of Parliament. The Social Mobility Pledge was founded by Justine Greening MP, the former Secretary of State for Education, supported by David Harrison, chair of the Harrison Centre for Social Mobility.

Justine Greening MP said: “The Social Mobility Pledge is about making a practical difference to employment opportunities and issues that affect people’s life chances by focussing on talents and competence. It's about where you're going not where you're from.

“It was great to meet the team from United Utilities and I am really delighted that they have signed the Pledge. They have committed to making a real difference to social mobility in Britain and I hope many more organisations will follow so that together we change Britain for the better.”