BUSINESSES at the heart of a Leeds community put their hands in their pockets to support a ground-breaking initiative to help school-leavers get their first step on the career ladder.
A former pupil at Benton Park School in Rawdon, Matt Bates, rallied local businesses to sponsor a series of workshops at the school to tackle the alarming rise in youth unemployment.
He runs The Model Education which aims to equip pupils with a range of skills to improve their performance at job interviews and boost employment prospects. Matt has worked all over the world for 20 years as a fashion model and took the lessons he learned from the catwalk to pupils - teaching the importance of first impressions, body language, confidence and self-esteem, what to wear and put them through their paces in a mock interview.
He was able to put on the workshops at the school thanks to local businesses - including a hairdresser, electrician and model agency boss - sponsoring the pupils’ attendance.
Matt said: “This isn’t the X-Factor. I always stress that the next time they will be doing this will be for real. We know a large percentage of leavers will work within a few miles of their school. This is a tremendous example of today’s employers supporting their employees of tomorrow, nurturing the pool of ‘home grown’ talent that exists on their doorstep in a novel way.”
The school’s senior leadership team associate Mark Ross said: “Benton Park is at the heart of the local community and this new partnership will offer our students an opportunity to learn a serious message about how to embark successfully on a career in a fun way. We’re grateful to the local businesses who are supporting the students to have this opportunity.”
Former Benton Park pupil Paul Shakeshaft, of Yazz Hair, said: “We work with the school in various ways already but this is a rewarding and innovative initiative we are pleased to support as a potential future employe.”
Matt hopes other businesses will follow the example of Rawdon companies and sponsor pupils to take part in a session in their local area. Visit www.themodeleducation.co.uk.