Kathy McLaughlin is an Assistant Team Leader with North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Prince’s Trust Training Programme, a 12 week personal development programme which helps to re-engage young people who are unemployed or not in education or training.
She recently returned from a weeklong Erasmus + funded trip to Malta, where she met with others across Europe working with young people, to share the work that has been done to tackle youth unemployment in the North West.
In this special feature she shares her experiences:
“At NWRC I help with the delivery of the Prince’s Trust Team Training Programme which is a 12 week personal development programme.
“It is such a rewarding job and I love being able to help, support and guide the young people.
“We are all about empowering our young people and encouraging them to make the most of the opportunities that come their way.
“We aim to build their confidence and increase their motivation, as well as gaining a qualification and develop their soft skills. We are committed to providing a learning environment that is secure and supportive.
“My time in Malta has made me realise that the work we are doing at NWRC is really brilliant and although at times it is quite challenging, it is so worthwhile.
“The Erasmus + mobility was an amazing opportunity to be able to talk to other youth leaders about the issues that affect their young people- there were some differences, but a lot of similarities.
“In Malta I had the opportunity to learn about the models and techniques that youth practitioners from Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Moldova, Turkey, Bulgaria, Malta, Greece and Czech Republic, have utilised to address issues impacting young people that are currently not in education, training or employment.
“By exploring models to address youth unemployment in other European countries and the techniques utilised to support young people to progress in employment I have consolidated a more comprehensive understanding of the range of techniques in addressing youth unemployment.
“One of the key areas of learning I consolidated through my participation in the Network Squared programme was the concept of partnership working.
“Whilst engaged on the programme I had the opportunity to develop partnerships with other European youth organisations that I can use to provide opportunities for European programmes that young people from NWRC can benefit from.
“These European programmes will focus on providing opportunities for young people to develop personally and also to acquire skills that can help them progress into employment.
“At the workshops at our venue each country presented to the rest of the groups about youth unemployment in their area and the massive impact it has on society and what is being done to help.
“We planned and organised potential youth exchange projects and had to make a case why our country should be chosen to host a youth exchange programme- the benefits of organising such a programme and the importance of intercultural exchanges.
“As well as this the Intercultural nights were a massive part of the learning. I loved the energisers and resources which we were all able to share with one another- things that I have already used with my group.
“Whilst in Malta I had the opportunity to share the knowledge I had acquired in my current role with other practitioners working in the area of youth unemployment. And I shared my knowledge of the barriers to employment that many local young people face and the methods we use to help young people overcome these barriers. Alongside fellow youth workers from across Europe I was able to share my knowledge to develop models of best practice that work to address the issues impacting young people who are currently unemployed. In partnership with other youth workers from across Europe we used our knowledge and experience to develop potential programme models that work to address these issues and help young people progress into employment or training.
“Very often the group would debate about the effectiveness of the interventions being used to help tackle youth unemployment and I would constantly find myself using examples of those that we have helped through the NWRC Team Programme.
“We all took it in turn to present to the others about our own country- teaching people about our culture and traditions, dancing, singing, letting others sample traditional food and drink. It was a great way to get to know the others and learn about the different cultures too.
“I feel so fortunate to have been able to take part in and feel that it’s really helped me develop personally as well as in a professional capacity. It has been brilliant that NWRC has been so supportive and they realise the valuable learning that happens on courses such as this.”
Applications are now being accepted for the next Team Programme course which will begin on Monday, September 10, at NWRC Derry and Limavady. The programme is free and allows participants to gain increased confidence, motivation and employability skills.
For more information contact Kathy.firstname.lastname@example.org (Limavady) or sean.curran@nwrc (Derry)