Career Connect

For National Careers Week and International Women’s Day we spoke with Amnah Vicars, who is a Careers Adviser within our Liverpool youth team. Amnah discusses her passion for helping young people overcome barriers, and the importance of mentoring the next generation of female Careers Advisers.

A photo of Amnah VicarsHow long have you been at Career Connect?

I started at Connexions (Career Connect’s predecessor organisation) in September 2003.

 Did you know what you wanted to do when you were at school?

I didn’t have a firm career idea when I was at school.

I loved performing arts, which I did as a child. I auditioned and was successful in gaining a place at Merseyside Dance and Drama Centre and I achieved RAD and ISTD qualifications. At one point I wanted to become a dance and drama teacher, but I changed my mind.

Can you give me a brief walkthrough of your career journey? If you changed direction, why?

When I left my dance and drama college, I worked in NEXT doing retail work. I knew I wasn’t going to stay in retail, but it enabled me to gain work experience and earn a salary until I decided on my next steps.

I then started at Liverpool City Council as a Trainee Clerical Officer and studied a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Public Administration. While there, I was promoted and worked in departments including City Engineers, Housing Regeneration and Social Services. I worked in the Council for 13 years.

Some of the roles involved working with communities on issues such as housing and regeneration, supporting resident groups, and community safety.

I applied for a secondment to an 18-month pilot project called ‘Family Group Conferencing’, within the Liverpool Social Services Emergency Aftercare Support Team. The aim was to help families develop their own solutions to the difficulties they were facing, and to empower them, along with the support of professionals, to develop a plan to enable their child’s return home with a package of support in place.

I really enjoyed this type of work, and it helped me to decide that I wanted to pursue a career working with young people.

To enhance my skills, I did an evening counselling course. I also volunteered as a mentor with The Princes Trust and Liverpool YOT. Through this, I was able to do training in both mentoring and safeguarding.

What attracted you to the careers sector?

I have always been passionate about education and careers for young people.

I wanted to a role that involved supporting young people in removing barriers to their progression, so that they could choose the career they wanted.

When Connexions was first established, a friend passed me an advert, and I knew it was the job I wanted to do!

An opportunity came up at Connexions to work on a project called Vision8 as a Trainee Youth Worker and I applied straight away. It was the perfect role for me.  

Vision 8 was a joint venture between Liverpool Youth Service and Connexions. It operated in diverse communities where needs were high.

It engaged NEET young people and those at risk of NEET in a range of youth service and Connexions activities. Through this, we helped them remove barriers to their progression. While delivering this project, I also attended Liverpool John Moores University to study Youth and Community Work.

Have you done more than one role at Career Connect?

Yes!  After Vision 8, I was promoted to a Personal Adviser Level 2.

I then completed the OCR Level 4 in Learning Development and Support Services for Children, Young People and those who care for them. At the time, this was the qualification needed to operate as a Careers Adviser.

I then worked two days a week in St Hilda’s School as a Careers Adviser and the rest of the week as a Community Personal Adviser supporting disadvantaged young people who were not in education, employment or training.

I also worked in the Liverpool Leaving Care Team and supported young people not attending school and experiencing barriers.

I have been a NEET Lead, which involved co-ordinating the delivery of support for NEET young people in Liverpool City wards.

I was also the Liverpool Lead when Career Connect was commissioned to deliver employability programmes for the Merseyside Youth Association Talent Match programme. I worked with a team of four advisers from across Liverpool City Region, and we developed and delivered employability courses and careers education for disadvantaged young people.

What does your current role involve?

I am currently a Careers Adviser working in socially deprived Liverpool City South wards.

I am accountable and responsible for reducing NEET figures and I have a caseload of young people.

I take an active lead in targeting, prioritising, monitoring and reporting on the numbers of NEET young people I support into positive destinations. I also work to support young people at risk of becoming NEET, where the work is carried out mainly in schools. 

What do you enjoy most?

I enjoy working in partnership with other organisations to develop social, educational and employability programmes in which young people can participate, and which help them to raise their aspirations, remove barriers, and gain new skills.

I also enjoy watching young people gain the confidence and skills to get into the career of their choice.

I love to see young people excel and reach their full potential.

What opportunities do you get to help empower women in your role?

I have been lucky enough to have had the support of some wonderful female role models and mentors within and outside of work, and I want to do the same for other women.

I am currently mentoring and supporting a female trainee Careers Adviser.

I enjoy sharing my experience and expertise with her and I provide a listening ear. I hope this will help her to develop in her role as she gains experience and develops her career.

I also like to offer a listening ear to other female colleagues. Sharing ideas and offering moral support helps to empower women.

This year’s IWD theme is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress”. How can careers provision/and or employers make this happen?

Companies can invest in women by providing a supportive work environment that offers training and employment pathways for women to progress if they wish.

This could include access to female mentors assigned to support and empower other women.

What is your number one piece of advice for a woman/girl considering her career path?

Aim high, don’t be afraid to try new things, and believe in yourself.

Try to find a female mentor that can give you advice and listen when you encounter challenges along the way

I also really like this quote from Michelle Obama: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”


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