Youth unemployment is an issue we should all be concerned about, and as people who work with young people on a regular or daily basis, it’s something many Arts Award advisers can’t ignore. Youth unemployment is almost three times as high compared to the rest of the UK population, and around 16% of people aged 16-24 are unemployed.
This means that equipping young people with the employability skills they need to get in to, and stay in work is more important than ever before. As a personal learning framework which builds a whole range of skills (not just art form knowledge), and as a national qualification, delivering Arts Award is a great way to help young people achieve this.
So what are employability skills?
Employability skills aren’t about having specific industry knowledge or qualifications, but are about capabilities including behaviour, attitude, and aptitude. They’re universal and applicable to almost all jobs. They include teamwork, planning and organisation, confidence, leadership, communication, problem solving and initiative.
How does Arts Award help?
Arts Award offers opportunities to develop all these skills, as well as gain a national qualification which can be used on CVs, talked about in job interviews and included in university/college applications.
For example, through their Bronze arts skills share, or a Silver/Gold leadership project, young people will demonstrate planning, organisation, communicating with others and self-reflection. Particularly at Silver and Gold level, young people will be required to create detailed project plans, set themselves goals, targets and timeframes, demonstrate how they can work in a team or with other people. All of these skills are valued by employers, and young people who’ve achieved Arts Award can give real, concrete examples of how they’ve used these skills in the past.
How can you build employability into Arts Award delivery?
As mentioned, young people will develop several employability skills simply through following the Arts Award framework. But if employability is a key focus of your project, here are some ideas for how you can embed it even more explicitly:
- Bronze Part B (experience the arts as an audience member): young people could gain experience through researching, planning and risk-assessing the trip to an arts event
- Bronze Part C (arts inspiration): as well as researching their arts inspiration, young people could consider what arts careers they might like to pursue and develop a personal action plan including researching training, qualifications, and work experience
- Silver/Gold Unit 2 (leadership project): ask young people to write a job description for their role in the project, thinking about what leadership skills they’re going to need. To help develop interview confidence, set up an ‘interview’ so they can practice being interviewed for the role
- Numeracy and budgeting: Communication is an assessment criteria for all levels of Arts Award. You can also help develop numeracy by asking young people to manage the budget when planning trips or leadership projects
- Enterprise development: young people could set up their own creative enterprise projects for their Silver/Gold leadership projects to develop business, enterprise, marketing and management skills. For example, Gold students from Portsmouth College of Arts created artisan products such as jewellery, bags and trainers to sell in outlets across the city
Our employability webpage and resources outline further how Arts Award can support the development of employability skills. You should also look at the employability mapping tool to see how Silver and Gold can develop specific skills.
There are several Arts Award case studies and resources which demonstrate how young people have developed employability skills:
- Young people at Future Steps in Brighton took part in a Bronze project focused on raising employability. As part of it they delivered a community project with each young person taking responsibility for a different area
- Harrow Arts Centre delivered Gold as part of their Young Associate scheme, to make sure there were clear progression routes for young people getting started on their arts careers
- The Lowry, Good Practice Centre 2014/15, embeds Arts Award across their learning and engagement programme. This resource shares their learning from embedding Bronze Arts Award within their skills and employability scheme.
Check out our employability webpage for further details of centres that have embedded Arts Award into their employability programmes.