Employability skills for life – the Explorer Scout Unit getting ahead

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For leaders looking to improve the employability skills of Explorer Scout Young Leaders (ESYLs), here’s some inspiration. With the support of a dedicated volunteer, these Explorer Scouts are going the extra mile to prepare for their futures. 

Scouting develops skills that make Scouts assets to any employer – confidence, leadership, teamwork and resilience. But being able to communicate theses skills to potential employers is just as important as having them, which is why the updated Explorer Scout Young Leader resources now include a new module (module J) dedicated to communicating ESYL skills to various audiences, to help young people in their interviews for apprenticeships and employment. 

But there’s another, often untapped, way to enhance young people’s employability skills, and that’s through linking up with local qualification providers to enhance young people’s skills and opportunities. When it comes to working towards the future, Mafeking 217 Young Leader Explorer Scout Unit (ESU) is an inspiration.   

Starting from scratch

The Mafeking 217 Young Leader Explorer Scout Unit (ESU) may be thriving now but just a few years ago it didn’t even exist. Part of 12th Swinton Scout Group in Greater Manchester, the Unit is headed up by Phil Bainbridge. Phil joined the Group five years ago as a Beaver Scout Leader; a little while later he took over as GSL. At the time the Swinton and Pendlebury District had no Explorer section, but in 2014 he managed to secure a Youth United Foundation (YUF) grant to open 504th Invictus ESU. It gained members quickly. And so, to cope with the demand, in 2016, the Group opened Mafeking 217 Young Leader Unit. 

Phil says: ‘starting from scratch has been exciting and we have needed to develop quickly to allow us to get the young people to the top awards.’ With these awards in mind he introduced the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) into the programme, which increased the volunteering within the District and paved the road to the higher awards. This resulted in the Unit achieving Bronze DofE Awards, Chief Scout’s Platinum Awards and a few Chief Scout’s Diamond Awards in 2017. 

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Preparing for the future

Passionate about the Young Leaders’ Scheme, Phil has not only been working through the Scheme with the young people but also going beyond it by including employability training and life skills to support them to confidently take on interviews and applications. 

The city of Salford, where the Unit is based, scores poorly on rates of deprivation and employability, and reduced opportunities in the area are obviously of concern to the young people. Phil wanted to address these concerns. Although he fully supports the growth and development aspects of the Young Leaders’ Scheme, he wanted to find ways for the scheme to transfer to employability by offering qualifications alongside the programme. 

And so, the young people in the Unit undertake a customer services course while learning how to make Scouting accessible. Those who are working through the extended version of this qualification learn how to prevent violence in the workplace and defuse volatile situations through non-verbal communication. 

Phil also teaches a Knife and Edged Weapon Awareness Programme (KEWAP) course, which addresses the prevention of knife crime and basic street safety. The young people also complete a fire safety qualification. In this customised version of the Young Leaders’ Scheme, Phil replaces the First Aid masterclass with an Emergency First Aid at Work to ensure all element of First Response are covered. 

Alongside the work the Unit do for their DofE, they do CV writing, interview training and they apply for recognition from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). The ILM is one of the UK’s leading providers of leadership and management qualifications and the accreditation shows the quality of the Young Leaders’ Scheme to any external organisations that Young Leaders might apply to in the future. 

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Getting support on the road to success

As the District have issues funding the Unit, Phil approached City West Housing Trust who agreed to fund the young people’s training, ensuring that there is no cost to the young person or their family so no one is excluded through financial hardship. 

The results have been remarkable. Alongside achieving top awards, the Unit undertook their Explorer Belt in Ireland in July and completed the Duke of Cornwall Community Safety Award, which includes dealing with community incidents such as flooding and caring for those involved in large-scale incidents. 

Beyond all that, the majority of the Unit’s young people who are of employable age are now successfully employed or have gone onto further education. In an area prone to deprivation, this is no small feat. The Unit is an impressive example of the positive impact the Young Leaders’ Scheme can have, especially when supported by committed leaders like Phil who by keeping in tune with the needs of young people locally delivers Scouting at its best.  

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