Catching up with Martin Green, Chief Executive
We caught up with Martin Green, Chief Executive of C+K to find out more about the new brand, the new website and the future plans for C+K.
So why have you launched a new brand and website?
Like most organisations we’ve faced a number of challenges lately, but fortunately we’re coming out of them stronger and more focused on what we do.
Every year we are responsible for ensuring that around 30,000 young people have the support and information that they need to make the best decisions around their education and employment.
In order to do this, we need to engage with a wide variety of audiences, stakeholders and organisations and inform them that we have a range of sector leading products and services that improve the lives of young people. Our new brand and website are the first steps in helping us to showcase all the great and valuable work that we do.
How has the last twelve months been for C+K?
Every year has its unique challenges, but over the last 12 months lots of things have significantly changed, particularly in respect to young people and careers. None of us yet know the true impact that the pandemic will have on teens and young adults, but we are determined to give them every chance to succeed in life.
When the lockdown hit last March, we were six months into a major internal review to evaluate our operations; to ensure that our products and services were fit for purpose, exceeded customer expectations and delivered value for money. One area that needed improving was our digital offer – and we were mid-development of an innovative hybrid digital/face-to-face delivery model when the country shut down.
We would have liked more time to test it, but with staff, clients and students all working from home – we had a unique window to fast-track our plans. By the summer we had 50 careers advisers working remotely and 87% of our careers advice was taking place online via a combination of video, audio and text chats.
Was careers advice the only area that benefited from an improved digital offer?
No, it also improved how we communicated with partner organisations.
We manage NEET contracts for Calderdale Council and Kirklees Council and obviously we expected numbers to increase due to the impact of a variety of external influences – particularly the local jobs market. However, adopting Teams and Zoom meetings meant we could quickly bring staff and multiple agencies together to address NEET issues. We’ve long been the conduit to brokering and bringing together diverse groups and people – but communicating digitally means less travelling to meetings and more time coordinating action.
This was demonstrated by our scorecard results for Dec ‘20- Feb ‘21. Despite national furlough schemes and escalating national youth employment – both Calderdale and Kirklees stayed with Quintile 1 with some of the lowest rates in the country.
Have any areas been detrimentally affected by the pandemic?
Probably the biggest impact has been on work experience. With schools and organisations closing their doors – work experience stopped overnight. Even now, with schools returning, many organisations are still furloughing employees, adopting ‘working from home’ practices, and doing everything they can just to survive. In the academic school year 2018/19 we arranged around 1,000 work placements – in 2019/20 it was 23.
This has meant we have to re-invent what work experience looks like in a post-COVID world. Fortunately, we have a fantastic team and they have been developing an innovative programme that pupils can undertake remotely and safely. We’ve even managed to engage with a number of local employers who have given up their time and are providing virtual tours of their workplaces. I’m excited about this and I’m hopeful that it will start a partnership with many more employers who share our commitment to improving the lives of young people.
Finally, what can we expect in the future?
Well, they say the best is yet to come – and in the coming months we will be rolling out an ambitious online careers platform for young people. Each user will have their own profile, and based on their unique interests and aspirations, it will provide personalised content and information to help them realise their ambitions. We are currently beta-testing with a number of schools and students, and we should be launching it in the summer term. With all the terrible things that have happened to young people over the last year – this is finally something that will swing things again in their favour.