Mentor scheme boosts employability skills

Business leaders encouraged to take part in employability mentoring programme

Business leaders and community volunteers are being sought to take part in an employability mentoring programme with students at Duchy College.

Mentor+ was launched last year as a ‘pilot’ aimed at equipping young people with the skills they need for the workplace.

The project was so successful it is being rolled out again this year to three times as many students at the college.

The project combines classroom teaching and mentoring by local volunteers to help students build confidence, develop an understanding of what employers are looking for, and improve their CV writing and interview techniques.

Of the pupils who completed last year’s pilot, 96 per cent said they had a better understanding of what employers were looking for while 81 per cent said they felt more confident in their ability to get work after full time education.

The project is hoping to expand this year to support 90 Duchy College students and additional mentors are being sought to help run the project.

Mentor+ was created by Cornish energy broker Total Energy Solutions together with members of Stoke Climsland Parish Church, and in partnership with the Duchy College which is part of The Cornwall College Group.

Kathryn Young, finance director of Total Energy Solutions, said: “The aim of Mentor+ is to bridge the gap between education and employment, build confidence and change lives.

“The education system is not preparing young people for the workplace so there is a large gap between their experiences and the reality of what employers are looking for. We hear so much about skills shortage but schools are focused too much on exam results and there is not enough emphasis on the skill set for employability.”

Alastair Carnegie, managing director of Total Energy Solutions, added: “Students see the job interview process as an exam because exam conditions is all they know. If they cannot articulate themselves on a CV and during the interview process, they cannot expect to succeed.

“As a result of last year’s pilot programme we saw a massive increase in self confidence among students, an understanding of their own skills-base and recognition that the interview is not a test and that employers want them to do well. The results can be life-changing.”

One student who took part in last year’s pilot is now a member of the British Army. Tyler Holter feels he passed his entry interview thanks to Mentor+. He said: “Doing the Mentor+ course for our employability lessons helped me because I now feel better about myself, more confident and have more belief in myself in these situations.

“Mentor+ helped me in different ways; for interviews, how to write my CV and personal statement. It has taught me basics like how to present myself, how to open doors properly, how to hand shake properly, what different signs of body language mean as in what impression you are giving to the interviewer.”

Tom Wheeler, who also took part in the pilot, added: “Mentor+ gave me great insight in to what an employer expects from you when going for a job interview. It taught me what to say that would make me stand out from the crowd. It also taught me how to set out my CV properly so that employers carry on reading through it, and put me in the small pile of future employees.”

Steph Byworth, aged 20, took part in mentoring sessions with Alastair on body language and interview techniques. She said: “The programme gave me new skills in body language and how to conduct myself in an interview. I feel a lot more confident about interviews and that, when I move on from college, I will be able to get a job.”

Andrew Counsell, principal of Duchy College, said he was delighted to see Mentor+ expanded in its second year following the huge impact it had on students during the pilot scheme.

He said: “The effect on the students has been extraordinary and I have no doubt it has given them a different view and a better start on their employment career.

“The work that Total Energy Solutions has put in on a voluntary basis, the quality of what has been produced, the thoughtfulness and the desire to promote and help young people has been amazing.”

Mentor+ needs additional volunteers in order to extend the programme and help more students. Volunteers need to be able to commit to two hours, one afternoon a week for eight weeks beginning January 2016. Full training is given.

To find out more about becoming a mentor, call Ali or Kathryn on 01579 370187 or email