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Advance Social Mobility and Aspirations

The Challenge

Colleges support students who face multiple barriers to progression, including homelessness, those who suffer abuse, those with caring responsibilities and young people in pupil referral units.

Other barriers include:

• 29% are from an ethnic or minority background
• 21% have learning difficulties and/or disabilities
• 16% are eligible for free school meals, compared with 8% in schools.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the education sector and labour market. Across England in 2020, unemployment levels rose and young people, in particular, were negatively affected.

Research from colleges show that more young people aged between 16 and 24 will require college places due to high levels of unemployment, and that a large cohort of young people require support to make up for lost learning after months of lockdown. We also know that there is a shortage of new apprenticeship places as well as a risk of redundancies across existing apprenticeship provision.

Large numbers of 19 to 24-year-olds require retraining to enable movement into sectors where there is more demand for jobs, and there is an urgent need to develop employability skills in students alongside the delivery of formal qualifications and training.

Clearly, there are huge challenges. But, colleges have a pivotal role to play, and with their work, these challenges can be overcome.

The Goal

We want to support positive pathways and meaningful employment for every college student. In order to achieve this, we partner with organisations who provide the most disadvantaged students with employment or enrichment programmes.

Our Work

We worked with the Pears Foundation’s #iwill fund to deliver a two-year youth social action pilot project across five colleges in England. Students engaged with their communities to understand the local challenges and what could be done to provide support. Activities included promoting healthy eating through setting up a community allotment, pamper sessions for the homeless and creating a garden at a nursing home. Students broadened their personal networks within the college and externally, developed important employability skills and in some cases, gained work experience.

Get Involved

We secure funding from a range of organisations and partners that wish to work with colleges and students through the vehicle of projects, programmes and research, managed and delivered by AoC. If you would like to know more please contact us.