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Commissioners visit Prince’s Trust centres in London

The commissioners’ fourth meeting on 5 December included visits to two Prince’s Trust centres in Kennington and Hackney. Meeting inspirational young ambassadors really helped to emphasise how enriching programmes of vocational learning can support young adults through challenging transitions.

Commissioners had the opportunity to gain an insight into the work of The Prince’s Trust and to meet young ambassadors to understand some of the issues disadvantaged young people face in terms of skills development, access to adult education and apprenticeships.

Asked about the Prince’s Trust’s ‘wow’ factor, there was a very clear response from the young ambassadors: ‘they listen to what you want to do’.   Commissioners were struck by the sense of confidence, direction and friendship amongst the young adults they met.  One young woman summed up the mood: ‘I know what I’m doing and where I’m going’. 

The Commission’s approach is to work from practice to theory. Each meeting includes a reflective discussion, in which commissioners spend time learning from the visit identifying some of the key features of excellent vocational teaching and learning and what might be transferable.

Reflections on the visits to the Prince’s Trust are still emerging, but commissioners were struck by:

  • the strong emphasis on empowering young adults to discover new options, with an overall ‘line of sight’ to progression to work or further study, and how these options can also become a vehicle for developing personal attributes;
  • the value of opportunities to open up ‘horizons for action’ for adults as well - we all continue to build our identities throughout our lives;
  • the flexibility, creativity and responsiveness of Prince’s Trust programmes, underpinned by a ‘risk-benefit’ rather than a risk-averse approach;
  • the importance of making connections - in a lifelong learning way - between youth and adult stages, given extended and often troubled transitions to adult life (which may in itself be less settled in future), and the value of trusted on-going support through those transitions;
  • the recognition by young ambassadors of the value of work experience and role models who can paint a picture of what working life is like, the Prince’s Trust’s approach to training employers who offer work placements to young adults from the Prince’s Trust, and the importance of recognising that there is an expense to vocational learning (chef’s knives, appropriate clothing etc) which should be taken seriously.