Career Connect

Staff from Career Connect have been shortlisted in two national awards for their outstanding work in supporting young people’s career development.

The Sefton NEET* Reduction and Early Intervention Service, delivered by Career Connect, is a finalist in the Early Intervention category of the Children & Young People Now Awards 2023.

Meanwhile, Ste Bedson, a Career Connect Team Manager in St Helens, has been shortlisted in the Unsung Hero category of the Third Sector Awards 2023.

Sefton NEET Reduction and Early Intervention service – Early Intervention category, Children & Young People Now Awards 2023

Career Connect works with Sefton Council to provide targeted, tailored support to vulnerable young people and who are at risk of becoming NEET in school years 9-11 (*NEET means young people not in employment, education, or training).

The innovative early intervention service led by the Sefton team focuses on helping young people to stay engaged with learning and career planning – keeping them on track until they reach school leaving age. The advisers’ one to one bespoke support and advice continues as the young person prepares to make the transition to further education, training or employment at the age of 16.

The service has kept the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training in Sefton below the England average at a time when national rates have gone up.

It focusses on individualised support, challenging stereotypes, promoting aspiration, tackling young people’s challenges head-on and applying a whole-family approach. This can include signposting family members or carers to wider support.

Specialist team members work with and understand the needs of groups including care leavers, young people with SEND, teenage mums, those in pupil referral units and more. This allows for truly tailored support and the building of trusting relationships with the young person and their family/carers.

The team builds strong relationships with local partners, aligned with Local Authority services to provide a holistic approach that is easy to understand and accessible.

Claire Maguire, Sefton Local Authority Commissioner for the Sefton NEET Reduction and Early Intervention service said:

“In seeking to commission a service to bring about a real difference in how our local system supports young people, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Career Connect. They have worked with us not only as a supplier of highly professional services, but have shared their insights and instincts about how we can flex, prioritise and target those young people who benefit from earlier help to prevent them from becoming NEET at all.

“To have done this through the last few years in partnership with the Council when the level of challenge faced by our young people has been at an unprecedented level, evidences their ability to test and refine new ways of working alongside us and the young people themselves, that we continue to value. Above all, we have reaped the benefits of earlier intervention and prevention for our young people through working with Career Connect and our enhanced performance in NEET national benchmarking testifies to this.”

Ste Bedson – Unsung Hero, Third Sector Awards 2023

Ste (pictured below) leads Career Connect’s work for St Helens Council. Ste was nominated for his person-centred approach, which he combines with innovation and an in-depth analysis of data to understand young people’s needs and make positive change.

Ste led his team in reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training to its lowest ever level in St Helens, by the end of 2020.

This was a significant achievement given the challenge the team faced in moving from face-to-face to virtual delivery during Covid, and the scarcity of employment opportunities available for young people in the local area. Many of the young people Ste works with need complex support to overcome multiple and complex barriers. Ste strongly believes in treating everyone as individuals and not defining them by the challenges they face.

Ste also led the set-up of St Helens Community Regeneration Fund project, Pathways to Employment in partnership with St Helens Council. The project came about after Ste’s data-driven research highlighted gaps in provision. The project provided academic aged 18-year-olds – who were too old to access standard school leavers’ provision and too young to access Job Centre careers advice – with intensive, tailored careers advice and coaching to help them get on the career ladder. This included funding for short courses, which young people would not have been able to access otherwise. The project has raised aspirations and helped young people to take career paths they never thought possible, including setting up their own businesses.

Sheila Clark, CEO for Career Connect said:

I am immensely proud of the work that our youth community teams do. To be shortlisted in these two national awards is testament to their hard work and dedication in helping young people to create a better future.

Both nominations show how our staff demonstrate our values on a daily basis: inclusive, person-centred, aspirational, impartial and professional. They also reflect the innovation we are becoming known for. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for all of them at the awards ceremonies. ”

The winners of the Third Sector Awards 2023 will be announced on Friday 22 September and the winners of the Children & Young People Now Awards 2023 will be announced on Thursday 23 November.  



Get in touch

Skip to content