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Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has joined Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, to call for an increase in business engagement with volunteering across the capital, particularly in support of young people. Also lending their support are the Chairs of the seven CIPD London branches, run by volunteers to provide networking and learning opportunities for CIPD members locally.

The joint ‘call to action’ was announced today at an event hosted at City Hall to celebrate the London launch of Steps Ahead Mentoring, run by the CIPD to provide young jobseekers (aged 18-24) with free one-to-one mentoring from a HR professional. Specifically, business leaders and HR professionals across London are being called on, during Volunteers’ Week, to consider taking three key steps:

  • Supporting volunteering programmes to help prevent and tackle youth unemployment.
  • Allowing their employees appropriate time off to take part in volunteering programmes.
  • Ensuring that experience gained via volunteering is recognised and credited during recruitment processes, particularly for entry and junior level roles, where candidates may not have had the opportunity to undertake traditional work experience opportunities.

Via the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme, young people are given the opportunity to be matched with a local volunteer who can help them develop their employability skills. Across London over 275 CIPD volunteers have already registered, with the aim of signing up 1,000 mentors over the next 12 months. This has been launched alongside HeadStart London, a new programme for 16-18 year olds delivered in partnership by Team London, the Mayor’s volunteering team, charity The Challenge and AGL Young People, part of the AGL communications group.

Commenting, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London said:  “I truly believe that volunteering can provide for our young people a vital first step on the ladder to career success, whether that be through gaining new skills and confidence, or getting support from professionals giving up their time to mentor them. I hope that more businesses of all sizes will recognise the benefit of volunteering as a valuable route to enriching their workforce and seeking out prospective new talented employees.”

Commenting, Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said: “One issue that we consistently hear about from those working in HR is that they worry about talent pipelines. On the flipside one of the main barriers that young people face when seeking employment is a lack of insight into the world of work. One way to bridge that gap is to encourage those working in HR, who hold responsibility for the recruitment of new staff, to volunteer with young jobseekers to help enlighten them about what employers look for.

“HR professionals can make a valuable contribution to the future of a young jobseeker by helping them with employability skills, including CV writing, interview technique and job search. Via the Steps Ahead Mentoring programme hundreds of CIPD members have already signed up to help young jobseekers in the Capital and we hope thousands of young people will benefit from their support in the coming months.”

Speaking on behalf of the seven CIPD London Branch Chairs, Julia Tybura, Chair of the South East Thames Branch said: “Given the benefits to both young people and businesses, there is a clear case for corporate support for volunteering. Employers have an important role to play in terms of ensuring that volunteering is recognised during recruitment processes but also in providing their employees with the opportunity to volunteer, particularly in support of young people. We believe that, as employers, getting involved in volunteering is the right thing for business, the right thing for society and the right thing for young people.  We have come together as CIPD London – our local branch partnership – to ensure this message is promoted to HR professionals working in organisations across London.”

Any young jobseekers (aged 18-24) keen to get themselves a mentor should speak to their local Jobcentre Plus adviser to find out more. Any CIPD members who want to volunteer to become a mentor can register via the CIPD website: