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Community engagement wins back capital's 'lost apprentices'

November 2013

London’s Lord Mayor Roger Gifford hailed this year’s winners of the annual Dragon Awards for their commitment to providing job prospects to people whose skills would otherwise remain lost to the capital. “There is a wealth of lost talent in London,” he said. “We can be cleverer in engaging that raw talent.”

And winning entries are doing just that, providing training to a total of 619 ‘lost apprentices’ so far in 2013.
Established 26 years ago, the Dragon Awards are the longest running awards that recognise excellence in corporate community engagement programmes. Overall, this year’s Dragon Award nominees have volunteered almost 1 million hours to local communities through their CSR programmes – worth over £17m.

The Economic Regeneration award went to Purdy, a medium sized engineering company which helps disadvantaged young people into careers in the industry, running work placements and apprenticeships to train local people – bucking an industry trend of subcontracting and poor investment in apprentices. The company is also seeking to recruit more women into the construction industry, encouraging girls to become apply to become apprentices.

The Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel was awarded the Social Inclusion award for its partnership with east London charity Providence Row, which has been working with London’s homeless for over 150 years.

What began as donations of towels and toiletries in 2009 has now grown to workshops in its hotel kitchens and work placements with a formal recruitment process, providing real-world employment experience for the trainees.
Since November 2011, 24 out of 31 people completed the scheme; five have moved into paid employment; four have moved into accredited training and six have moved into further volunteering.

Islington-based K&M McLoughlin Decorating received the Heart of the City award for its five week pre-apprenticeship ‘employability’ programme, which gives locals aged 16-24 practical skills and training to help them into the industry.

Since the programme started in October last year, 131 young people have completed the course. Out of that, 71 have been deemed employable and 64 have made it into further employment (21 as apprentices).

The Social Inclusion award went to ZenithOptimedia for its partnership with Camden’s Castlehaven Community Association – a community centre based in one of the highest crime spots in the UK. ZenithOptimedia employees are given time off each year to volunteer – and this year 48% signed up to help out. The support they offer ranges from events throughout the year, such as tea dances for the elderly and digital training for the youth members.

The Education Award went to Lloyds Banking Group for its Lloyds Scholars Programme, which offers 120 scholarships a year across eight universities.

The scholars volunteer 100 hours a year in their local community, supporting disadvantaged groups and other community projects, which goes to build their skills. The idea is to support talented students who may not have had the opportunities some of their peers have had to build up an attractive CV whilst at university.

The Community Partners award went to Pilotlight, a capacity building charity, exists to bring senior business people – the majority of whom have never volunteered before – together with small, grassroots charities, to coach them in the skills they need to survive and thrive.

The charities Pilotlight works with improve their ability to reach people, tackle problems and change their communities.

Three years ago Pilotlight devised a Graduate Programme to leverage the talent of future business leaders. RBS graduates are challenged to come up with creative, practical and innovative solutions to ‘real world’ issues faced by the partner charities. To date 16 charities and 126 RBS graduates have taken part, giving 6,300 hours of their time to the third sector.

Finally, the Lord Mayor’s Award went to Lloyd’s of London for its ‘Aim 2 Attain’ programme which arose out of government cuts to funding students from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university.

A series of CV workshops and mentoring is offered to students to help them achieve their potential, and a bursary is offered to fund three students through university a year.

The scheme is focused on the Tower Hamlets area – 80% of those who are going to university from Tower Hamlets stay in London due to financial pressures. 

UK & NI Ireland | Community links

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