Two branch managers from the North East’s biggest building society have been helping young people from County Durham and Teesside prepare to show themselves in the best possible light to potential future employers.
 
Karen Morgan and Gemma Leighton, who run the Society’s Middlesbrough and Darlington branches respectively, worked with more than 100 young people at a special event hosted at Sedgefield racecourse by Dyke House school, with the assistance of corporate responsibility organisation, Business In The Community (BITC).
 
The Making Opportunities event aimed to help the participants, all of whom are in Year Ten, to identify the different things that they do well and develop the skills to get them across at the interviews they’ll be doing when they eventually leave school.
 
Karen and Gemma carried out practice job interviews, showing the pupils the right and wrong ways to respond to questions, and set tasks which saw teams presenting back on what they’d done to the whole room.
 
The Society’s involvement is part of their long-term involvement with BITC’s Business Class programme, a national initiative which aims to raise career aspirations among school-aged children in deprived areas, highlight opportunities, and provide direction on what they need to do to take advantage of them.
 
NBS staff from Darlington, Middlesbrough, Stokesley and Hartlepool have been involved in a range of programme activities at local schools, including acting as mentors at regular meetings of groups of young people and taking part in practice interviews, to help prepare young interviewees for the sorts of questions they might be asked in a real interview.
 
Karen Morgan, manager at the Society’s Middlesbrough branch, says: “Being involved with this sort of event is a practical way for us to give back to the communities in which we work, and the commitment and desire to learn shown by the young people who took part was extremely impressive.
 
“We tried to demonstrate how what you do at school can impact on your life after you leave, and what these activities can demonstrate about you as a person – taking part in something like the Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme, for example, shows the sort of determination and commitment that employers will be looking for.
 
“Putting our participants on the spot with mock interviews and team tasks was a challenge for many of them, but we saw them all develop during the day, gaining confidence in what they had to say about themselves and how they were able to say it, and when it comes to the real thing, we hope they’ll be in the best possible position to get the jobs they want.”
 
John Riddell, Education Manager for Business In The Community in the North East, adds: “The enthusiasm and professionalism shown by the Newcastle Building Society staff has helped Business Class to have a positive and lasting impact of the employability on the young people who take part.  The Building Society is an outstanding example of a responsible business.”