How Bright Exchange is opening up pathways into employment for young people

How Bright Exchange is opening up pathways into employment for young people

Last year I spoke at the FUTR Festival on the subject ‘Breaking Barriers’ and what it really means to break barriers; especially when trying to connect our Black, Afro/Caribbean young people with work experience opportunities, writes David Wurie, Founder of Bright Exchange.

I highlighted the importance of giving our young people a chance to exercise their expertise, skillsets and passion.

Organisations that embrace the culture of work experience give young students a chance to grow their knowledge and enhance their level of professionalism, and give them the ability to take ownership of a delegated role which helps social mobility immeasurably.

Here at Bright Exchange, we help students with career advice, work experience opportunities and mentoring partnerships. Our work experience programme provides opportunities to gain some hands-on experience, develop knowledge in a desired field and gain insight on the day-to-day procedures within certain organisations.

A lack of senior Black staff in many top firms means they are often perceived as “unapproachable” by some of our young Black students; while companies themselves are generally unaware that they have this image.

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This is why it’s imperative that we strive to continue to break barriers and open that gateway for our students who are willing to undergo work experience as they explore different career options and adapt a sense of direction.

Mentoring organisations said that despite corporations pledging to improve diversity, they should be doing more to actively reach out to minority and under-represented groups.

We have also paired more than 60 students with mentors who currently work within the profession they aspire to get into. This helps break so many barriers
as it allows our student’ to get first-hand advice.

As a young Black man myself, I remember when I was their age, and didn’t have a mentor. Looking back now, there was a lot that I needed to learn and knowledge to acquire.

This really pushed me to start Bright Exchange as I wanted to give back based on what I missed out on. We sometimes lose sight of just the simple things; having a mentor who is there to direct, advise and offer help can ultimately go a long way.

I always say this: “A mentor might not have the answer to everything or hold the key to every opportunity out there, however, they can direct you to someone within their network who has the answers.”

That’s why I feel that having a mentor is extremely beneficial in the growth of our young people. The UK youth unemployment rate for 2020 was 13.51 percent, a 2.42 percent increase from 2019.

That’s why we decided to support young students during the pandemic over Zoom. We had weekly sessions talking about the different job opportunities that were out there and helped with the step-by-step process on applying for jobs and also advised on interview techniques.

At Bright Exchange we feel it is imperative to help students get that foot in the door and create a platform for them where they feel that the opportunities are attainable.

I feel that organisations should all implement a work experience culture so that students have the opening to gain the experience that is needed to help with their journey as they find the right career path.

Investing in young people is something that I care about immensely and this is one way companies can showcase their desire to help impact and empower the next generation.

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