Black Country Talent Match

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Talent Match: 21 stories, 21 young faces, 21 areas

Talent Match is targeting young people who are furthest from the jobs market, including those who are completely outside of the benefits, work and training system and facing severe barriers to gaining the skills they need to get into work.

Talent Match will boost opportunities for young people in these areas by bringing together partnerships of employers, education providers and others, led by local charities.

The investment was co-designed with young people, both centrally and in each of the 21 partnership areas, and will continue to have young people at the heart of decision making throughout the programme.

21 stories, 21 young faces, 21 areas


Natasha, 22, Solihull, West Midlands

Natasha, 22, Solihull, West MidlandsHaving been in care from the age of 15, Natasha had a tough start in life but with the support of her foster parents, she trained to become a chef, working in a local hotel. However personal issues meant it didn’t last and she began drinking more.

Over the last two years she has turned things around and is hoping to help other young people like her through her Talent Match work.

Natasha says: “Volunteering has helped re-build my confidence and self-esteem and I now feel positive about the future. I hope Talent Match goes the full distance and manages to support young people to access the opportunities they deserve, as every young person matters.”

Find out more via the BVSC website

Black Country

Ashley, 22, Dudley, West Midlands

Ashley was born in Dudley in the heart of the Black Country. He had an unsettled childhood, losing his father, moving home on a regular basis and having to cope with the difficulties his mother endured.

As a result of his frequent moves Ashley was always the new boy in school and was bullied. He was identified as having ADHD traits but even so showed great potential. Ashley says: “My teacher reviews always had a common theme: Ashley’s a likeable, bright and capable individual, but he’s distracted and disruptive. Meaning they’ve always seen my potential, but no way to unlock it. Even so I did gain some qualifications from school.”

Ashley tried his luck at college but quickly dropped out. By now he had left home and was living in a hostel. “I was signing on at the job centre and was put onto a number of training schemes. However, I found it difficult because the schemes and placements weren’t challenging and stretching me. I managed to get a job in a bar but couldn’t stick it.”

After being unemployed for some time and with no clear direction Ashley was able to find a job working in a supermarket. He has aspirations of working with young people in some sort of counselling role. He continues to hold onto the hope of a better life.

For more information email

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Sean, 19, Cornwall

Sean grew up in London but moved to Cornwall in 2011 to be with his partner. Having suffered bullying at school, Sean left at 15 with no qualifications. Sean was referred to the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) by Careers South West and joined the Talent Match programme in September 2012. He was one of the first young people engaged in the project and helped to design many elements of the programme that will now be rolled out across the country.

A founder member of Generation E – RIO’s young people’s communications agency, supported by Talent Match – Sean led the design team and was involved in creating the brand. This was the first time Sean had worked with a professional designer, learning all parts of the branding process from writing a design brief to signing off the creative.

Sean says: “I joined Talent Match because I didn’t want to see other people in the same situation that I was in. I was unemployed and saw Talent Match as an opportunity to open doors for myself and other young people. I wanted to learn new skills, and hopefully come out with a job at the end of it.”

Find out more at

or email


Luke, 22, Nuneaton, West Midlands

Following a period out of work and struggling to find a place to live, Luke was directed to homeless charity Doorway by his careers adviser.

Through Doorway, Luke took part in voluntary work and training programmes and gained qualifications to get employment. Now Luke feels he has regained his confidence, and feels more equipped to face the job market.

Luke says: “The idea of Talent Match is to support people like me that are struggling to find work. I would advise other people my age in my situation to ask the Job Centre about support programmes.”

After building his confidence and completing his development programme, Luke hopes to continue to build on this experience and find full-time employment.

For more information email

Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

Daniel, 18, Nottingham

Daniel lives in Killisick ward in Gedling Borough in Nottinghamshire. He says: “I like my neighbourhood very much, although it falls into the category of ‘deprived’ areas. We suffer from relatively high levels of anti-social behaviour and very few job opportunities, particularly for young people like me. Many of my friends are out of employment or education and there is not a lot for them to do in Killisick.

“I know how they feel from my own experience. At the age of 15-16 I was not doing a lot apart from hanging out on the street, being involved in petty crime and anti-social behaviour. Many of my mates still do the same because there is nothing there to make them change their behaviour. It took time and a lot of effort for me to realise that such a life will not get me anywhere. I recently started my course at college and got support to pursue some business ideas I have.

“It is still early days, but I am confident in what I want to do. However, I am still aware of the problems young unemployed people face and feel obliged to help them to the best of my abilities. For that reason, I have joined Talent Match programme as a young commissioner for Groundwork and will become a peer mentor in my neighbourhood.”

For more information visit

or email

Greater Manchester

Daniel, Manchester

Daniel has been unemployed since leaving school in 2003. He has had some work experience but hasn’t been able to find anything permanent. These setbacks led him to suffer with anxiety issues, which made it even harder to find work. Daniel has been involved with Talent Match for about 18 months.

Daniel says: “During my time with Talent Match I have helped to make two films on youth unemployment. I have noticed a big change in my confidence; I am able to ask people questions without feeling afraid. I also feel more able to handle negative situations. My ambition is to set up my own film company one day, but right now I would like to be employed by a media firm so that I can learn more. Being part of Talent Match has already helped me head in the right direction, so I am really excited about what the programme can offer me and other young people in Manchester.”

For more information visit

or email


Ant, 21, Thringstone, Leicestershire

Anthony left school with few qualifications and lacking direction. He felt unsure where to seek career advice or where to begin building his experience in different fields of work to test what he would like to do.

Anthony says: “I felt that there was not a lot of hope for me given my lack of experience in the working world and my lack of qualifications. My biggest challenge was knowing where to start and having the confidence to approach employers and training providers.”

While doing voluntary work, Anthony heard about a proposed scheme called Talent Match, and was offered the chance to be part of the youth board designing the scheme. He took part in a lot of the visioning and design days, received valuable training in management skills.

Anthony says: “Talent Match is a great idea. Matching unemployed young people up with mentors who have knowledge and experience is a brilliant idea to help focus their career prospects and aspirations.

“When I left school I began to lose hope about my future and didn’t know where to turn – with the help of my mentor I have learnt more about who I am as a person and what my strengths are, I will use this knowledge when applying for jobs and in interview situations.”

For more information visit

or email


Gemma, 23, Lincoln

Gemma was unemployed and working a few hours a week as a mobile hairdresser when she was introduced to The Prince’s Trust. The introduction was from another young person who had completed the Enterprise programme, which helps young people set up in business. When Gemma’s friend heard she wanted to start her own business he recommended she get in touch immediately and register for the Explore Enterprise workshop.

Gemma said: “It would have taken me a lot longer to get where I am without the help and support of The Prince’s Trust.  I would recommend them to any young person who wants to start a business; anyone can do it.

“It was not just the financial help but the ongoing step by step support and guidance I received that has helped me to succeed. The one to one sessions have helped my confidence and made me believe in myself, helping me to look at the business from outside and take time to reflect. Talent Match sounds brilliant because it will give so many young people the chance to get the help and support I was able to benefit from.”

For more information visit

or email


Rebecca, 19, Liverpool, North West

Rebecca is a photography enthusiast who dreams of owning her own studio and having a successful business.

After her mother died when she was 12, Rebecca struggled to stay focused in school, and it wasn’t long before the effects began to be reflected in her grades. Leaving school at just 15 with no qualifications, the future was looking glum for her. She started multiple courses to get her education back on track but was unable to complete any of them.

Now aged 19, Rebecca is working with Talent Match to make sure others in her situation don’t feel as helpless as she did.

Rebecca says: “I know how competitive the job market can be, and it is intimidating for anyone – particularly when you are trying to get into your future career. If Talent Match had been accessible for me, I would have found it a massive support knowing that there was something out there that would assist me, despite my lack of qualifications and confidence.”

For more information email


Jace, 22, London

Jace was born on the Caribbean island of Montserrat and moved to the UK in 2010. He was 19 and without the core qualifications in English, Maths and Science to get the type of work he wanted. He realised that he wanted to set up his own bike repair business but he lacked the practical work experience and skills he needed to do so. Jace says: “I managed to get some help to start my business plan, but now I need help to take the next step up.

“Talent Match London is about helping the next generation to find out what they’re good at to get the careers and independence they want. It will help young people like me to be supported from education to paid employment and into continued career progression. For me there’s no other programme out there like that.

“I’m involved with Talent Match London because I love working with and helping young people. Eventually I want a part of my future business to help make things easier for young people like me to get on in their careers. I know that if I’d have had this kind of support, things would have been much easier.”

For more information visit

or email


Alan, 20, Middlesbrough

Alan left college hopeful about the future with a motor engineering qualification but was left disappointed when he struggled for more than seven months to find work in his area. He says: “I had thought that I could go out and get a job straight away after I left college but there were no jobs out there. I began to get down about my situation when I realised that if I wanted to work it would be in an area that I didn’t have any experience in and the skills that I had learned at college would go to waste.”

Alan attended the four day Explore Enterprise course where he learned about business planning, cash flow and taxes. He says: “I learnt so much from that course and it gave me the confidence that I could open my own business if I put my mind to it.”

Alan completed his business plan and was awarded a £2,700 loan and a Trust business mentor to start up his car garage – Al’s Garage – which opened in November 2012. Alan used the money to secure premises and buy equipment for the garage.

He says: “Before I opened the business I would just sit at home all day looking for jobs. Now I have something to work towards and that feels great. I think Talent Match is a great idea because young people out there who are struggling to find work or start a business do need help. I have been there and it’s so easy to lose hope for the future.”

For more information visit

or email

New Anglia

Alistair, Norwich

Alistair has been living in Norwich for over five years, after moving from London. He found it difficult to find a job. “It’s probably the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced,” he says. “I applied for lots of positions before getting an apprenticeship.

“I am doing a Business Administration Level 2 qualification in my current role, where I am involved in graphic design and web-based work. I want to continue to build my skills and am interested in games design and would love to work for a games company one day.

“Young people need practical support – not just words. Help with job searches, CV writing and interview training are just some of the ways people can help. Young people also need to speak up if they are struggling. It’s easy to feel alone when you are silent, but we’re all in this together.

“I hope young people can relate to my story and be encouraged by it because, as unhappy as they may currently be, they can move past it and succeed.”

For more information visit

or email

North East: County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Sunderland.

Emma, Northumberland

Emma is a young single parent who has struggled with staying in employment since the birth of her daughter.  She says: “I’ve been employed, unemployed, faced homelessness, have gone periods without food in order to feed my child, struggled to find and pay for childcare so I can work when I can and accumulated large amounts of debt. I am just one example of thousands in my area battling with youth unemployment.

“It’s been incredibly important throughout Talent Match for young people to be an integral part of the decision making process. I look forward to helping implement great changes in my area with Talent Match to help young people find employment searches easier, less tedious and more creative.”

For more information visit

or email


Steven, 17, Kettering

Steven left school at 17. Steven tried sixth form, but after a year he dropped out as it wasn’t working out for him. All he could find were jobs in cleaning and administration – which, he felt, didn’t have any prospects for developing a career. Steven wanted something more challenging and suited to his interests so he started volunteering with disabled young people. He found this work much more enjoyable and through his volunteering he has found a new job.

Steven says: I hope Talent Match will help other young people to overcome barriers in finding jobs with a future that are challenging and worthwhile. There is a real shortage of jobs that offer extra training and career growth which many young people really need. I want Talent Match to make it easier for young people to find aspirational jobs where they can develop their skills and better prospects for the future.”

For more information visit

or email


Peter, 21, Sheffield

Peter says “I loved the being part of the Talent Match process in Sheffield and I have met everlasting friends. Taking part has changed lives.  No matter what, we all need help into work and this is a great opportunity to positively impact the lives of young people; helping them into work by developing their skills’.

For more information email

South East

Sara, 28, South East

After being diagnosed with ME, Sara left school at 14. She studied hard at home to gain good qualifications and secure a place at Hereford College of Art. But, like many students, Sara struggled to find a job after leaving university.

“For about a year, I survived on very little and the whole experience made me feel low. The longer you find yourself unemployed, the scarier and harder it becomes to get back into work. I felt like I was dealing with all the stress on my own, which eventually started to impact my physical and mental health, but I knew I just had to keep on persevering.”

After being unemployed for 12 months, an adviser from the Job Centre recommended that Sara go on The Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise programme and find out more about setting up her own business.

Since that day, Sara has secured a space to work. She’s now looking to partner with local galleries to exhibit some of her sculptures.

“I think Talent Match is a great idea. Having someone there to mentor you is a huge help and takes the weight off your shoulders when you have lots of questions but don’t know who to ask. It means you can work out the answers together. It’s something I would like to do in the future to help another young person with their career.”

For more information visit

or email


Alex, 23, Lichfield, West Midlands

Alex became involved with Talent Match because he had been looking for volunteering through the Volunteer Centre and was told about the opportunity. He had had difficulties finding work and found there were many barriers in his way. Since getting involved with Talent Match, he has been a member of the Youth Action Team and helped set up the Talent Match project.

Alex says, “I have really enjoyed working with other young people, providing  ideas and discussing the barriers that prevent young people getting work.”

For more information email

The Humber

Fay, 19, Yorkshire and the Humber

Fay was a high achiever at school, but she struggled at college as mental health issues affected her learning. She left with low grades, no confidence and no idea what direction to turn. After months of fruitless job-seeking, she couldn’t see a future for herself. After briefly attending MOJO, a course for young unemployed people, she finally found a vacancy. Now she’s on an advanced apprenticeship with the Humber Learning Consortium, which introduced her to Talent Match Humber.

Fay says: “Talent Match saw my potential, believed in me and valued my opinion. They gave me the responsibility of consulting other young people on how Talent Match Humber could best make sure it would offer what we valued most to help us overcome any barriers and move towards a more positive future.”

For more information email

The Marches: Herefordshire and Telford

Scott, 22, Hereford, West Midlands

Scott has played a key role in developing and designing the Marches Project, arguing strongly for young people themselves to be given responsibility for the managing and delivery of the programme. Scott’s talent for influencing, advocacy and action was brought out by Close House Youth Project, Hereford where he led the Epic team of community volunteers. He has also become a managing director of their enterprise company.

After leaving school with a few GCSEs and BTECs Scott spent a couple of years on a construction course. He has also done bar work, security and some short term warehousing, but nothing permanent so far. Scott says: “How do you get a job if you have no work experience and can’t get the experience because you can’t get a job? How do you break out of the downward spiral? Where do you get help to start climbing back up the ladder? Talent Match will help provide an answer to these problems and working on the project has meant a lot to me. It’s been made by young people for young people and it’s going to make a big difference to the young people of Telford and Herefordshire.”

For further information visit

West Yorkshire: Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees

Ross, Leeds

Ross has experience of being long-term unemployed and he has found it very difficult to find work. He has helped Talent Match Leeds shape their offer to young people in the area.

Ross says: “I really struggled to find work. There was no real help and it was over a year before I got a job. I was interested in youth work, but given a warehousing role, there was no real job at the end of it and I was being paid £2.65 ph which is unrealistic, I couldn’t make ends meet on it.

“I got involved in Talent Match because I don’t want other young people to have the same difficulties I did. I hope this project will give young people in the area someone who knows about the right links, what they really want and how to get through the right front door. I think young people need to be paid the minimum wage and get real support, help and signposting.”

For more information visit

or email


Ben, 19, Worcester

Ben is excited about what Talent Match will mean for his area.  He says: “I moved into emergency accommodation last year as a result of family breakdown. It was a difficult time for me as I had been made homeless before and this resulted in a suicide attempt. I was asked to take part in the Talent Match project and was really excited to be involved. It has really boosted my confidence and I am now applying for an apprenticeship and have even been nominated for a local award for young people. My future feels much brighter and I hope this Talent Match funding will mean a brighter future for many more young people.”

For more information visit

or email

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