Career Connect

Career Connect, St Helens Borough Council, and voluntary sector organisations worked in partnership after identifying a gap in provision for academic age 18-year-olds.

Funded by the Community Renewal Fund, Pathways to Employment aligned with the aims of the St Helens Borough Strategy, St Helens Economic Recovery Plan and LCR Build Back Better.

St Helens has high levels of deprivation and has been hit extremely hard by the impact of Covid. Pathways to Employment sought to bridge the gap for academic age 18-year-olds who were on the cusp of, or were ineligible for, standard provision for 16–17-year-olds, but who were too young or found it difficult to access adult employability services.

A high proportion were classed as ‘economically inactive’ – among the furthest away from employment, education or training – and faced significant barriers. Home visits from advisers, and a focus on personal choice, were an essential part in removing these barriers and building trust.

Factors critical to success were:

  • A proven relationship-based model with a trusted adviser, enhanced for 18-year-olds. A focus on hope for the future and career planning. Active listening, trauma-informed support, help obtaining ID, referrals to mental health support and more.
  • A discretionary fund for transport, equipment and clothing – often invisible barriers – and part-time courses which young people would otherwise not have been able to access.

Take up was high and courses included coding, counselling, teaching assistant, beauty and forensics. One participant set up their own dog walking business as a result.

The outcome:

  • 18-year-old NEET figures in St Helens fell to 6.76% from 6.81% in the previous year. With a 16-17-year-old NEET cohort increase from 3.61% to 4.26% in this period, this marked a significant improvement.
  • 100 out of a target of 100 participants registered.
  • 94 out of a target of 80 improved life skills.
  • 87 out of a target of 30 engaged in job search.
  • 27 out of a target of 30 moved into employment.
  • 26 out of a target of 25 moved into education/training.
  • 100% satisfaction score from completed evaluations.
  • 93% of young people rated their advisor 10/10 for developing a plan to achieve their goals.

External evaluation from Metro Dynamics: 

“Feedback from beneficiaries was that it gave young people a sense of hope that they’d lost and presented options they didn’t know
were available.”

“Delivery partners noted…this project really helped young people navigate adult services in a way they were previously unable to, as they were supported through the process of getting and benefitting from support.”

Participant feedback: 

“It is solely due to the career advice from Kevin that I now know what I would like to do with my life in terms of my education and employment.”

“The project definitely helped to motivate me towards my future goals with my own career prospects and furthering my education.”

“Before I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do which was just in general an animal related job – but now I am more set on a specific one – dog walking/pet sitting – it’s helping me focus on just one thing which has helped a lot.”

“It helped me consider job roles I never would’ve found myself confident enough for.”

“10/10 the experience helped me become more open to job opportunities.”

“Now I have a set idea on what I want to do rather than a more broad idea.”

“It got me out of my comfort zone and helped me get comfortable.”

“Getting to talk to someone about a future goal/idea and actually plan towards it. Before I have more just thought about it and put it to the side because I wouldn’t really know what to do.”

“I was always made to feel very welcome.”



Download our Impact Report for 2022/23


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