Yesterday evening I was at an event celebrating the end of a three year programme run by the CatZero charity helping to remove the N from NEET (young people Not in Employment, Education or Training). Hull and the Humber have a higher than average problem with NEETs and CatZero have been using an innovative approach to giving young people the confidence to achieve.
CatZero have achieved a certain amount of notoriety, locally and nationally, after they convinced the NHS to spend £500,000 on a 72′ ocean going sailing yacht for the programme. The challenge provided by sailing the yacht from Hull to the Shetlands and back, is probably the highlight of the programme, but its success (which I will come to soon) is as much about the rest of the 12 weeks that CatZero work with the young people.
So what were the results? Over the past three years, 416 young people aged 16-18, not in employment, education or training, have taken part in the CatZero programme. Of those, 285 (69%) have lost the “N”. For comparison, the average conversion rate in Yorkshire & Humber across a similar time period is estimated at 30%-50%, with an average of 41%. AT the same time, the young people have also met a wide range of business people, “tasted” a range of jobs, seen Hull Prison (where you could end up if you don’t change your ways) and undertaken a series of healthy living programmes.
CatZero is a good example of what can be achieved when the public, private and voluntary sectors work together. It is supported by 89 partner organisations, including Archomai. We provide CatZero with an Introduction to Logistics session, including: hands on experience of simulators for materials handling; an understanding of RFID and other technologies; an interactive session on global supply chains – risks, issues, complexity.
When we designed the session, we made some decisions: no sitting down; no powerpoints; keep the tempo of the session high, and limit numbers per session to achieve this; no breaks; run a competition for best performance on the simulators. Everyone in the session is rotated through the equipment in groups with a maximum of three per group.
On the cranes many young people performed well, though the ones who approached them as a video game struggled as smooth and gentle is the name of the game. If you jump at picking up a container with a £20 million quayside crane – you will spend ages trying to calm the swaying down, or you will overrun the target position. We have no doubt that there were many who began to understand that working a crane was a skilled job, and that they had the manual skills for it to be a real job option.
Simulation and simulators could be expanded to be part of the land based experience of the groups and, as we add offshore rig based simulators to the approach, we can extend this to the offshore renewables industry (wind and water) that is building on the Humber – at £55k per annum for work in the offshore wind industry rising, much more for oil and gas. After all, if you’ve worked your passage on a yacht you won’t struggle with a support boat or being out at sea for a couple of weeks.
Having worked with a lot of the young people, we have found that the image of the NEET is anything but the truth. As a group they can be motivated, interested, have skills. Perhaps it is they way they are treated – classrooms aren’t for everyone. I remember well a study from the 1960s that showed that school classes that teachers thought would not do well, in general did less well than those the teachers thought would do well. Even when the teachers had been told the reverse of how each class had performed previously. As Henry Ford said “If you think that you can, or if you think that you can’t, you’ll be right”. The trick, as with most things in life and training, is to always have the positive attitude that you can achieve. That is the real secret of CatZero.
CatZero is also a good example of innovation in training. Sometimes what is most effective is not logical or obvious. We at Archomai also believe that this kind of innovative approach is just as applicable to work with schools. Why wait until young people who are failing at school (and there’s no reason to exclude those who are not failing either) leave school and become NEET? Why not engage with them early and perhaps start to innovate with the curriculum to provide the education each child needs, rather than forcing all down the same academic path? How many young people in schools get an understanding of ALL the jobs that are available?
(You can read more about CatZero and their work on their website).