The Berkeley Group is one of five employers to be shortlisted for the Mayor's Fund for London Awards 2015, in the Employer of the Year category. The Awards recognise excellence in establishing and improving job opportunities for young Londoners.
This is, in part, a result of their work with the Berkeley Foundation, established in 2011 to tackle the problems of worklessness and homelessness in London and the South East. Two Foundation programmes address the serious problem of youth unemployment: the Job Creation Programme and Street Elite.
The Job Creation Programme, launched in July 2013, helps people who are currently unemployed to move into sustainable work within the Berkeley Group and its supply chain. The jobs range from administration and customer services to site-based labouring and apprenticeships, and are all over and above Berkeley's Section 106 agreements with local councils. Candidates for many of the roles are referred by the Foundation's partner organisations, Young London Working, Crisis and the Prince's Trust, and the programme aims to help 500 people into jobs within two years.
Street Elite is a nine-month training-for-work programme that uses sport sessions to engage NEET young men and women on the edge of gangs and crime. Berkeley offers two weeks' work experience to every programme graduate. Three years in, just under 80% are in education or employment. 13 are working for Berkeley itself. We will invest almost £500,000 in this programme over 5 years.
Street Elite graduate Brett Grace struggled to find work after leaving prison. He joined Street Elite, and is now a Trainee Assistant Site Manager with Berkeley. "I had a tenner to my name four months ago. Now I'm picking my son up from school in my suit."
One key lesson stands out from this work. Having a transformative impact on the lives of disadvantaged young people requires individual, tailored and often intensive support. This makes scaling up harder, but is the only way to be genuinely confident of sustainable outcomes. We have to help these young Londoners person by person.
The winners of the Mayor's Fund for London Awards will be announced on 12th March 2015.