To celebrate National Care Day, WhiteHat teamed up with Drive Forward to host a breakfast panel to educate industry professionals on hiring, retaining and supporting care leavers through apprenticeship programmes.

The morning began with Siobhan Randell, WhiteHat’s Education and Outreach Manager, and Miranda Reilly, Drive Forward’s Strategic Partnerships Manager, discussing how apprenticeships give care-leavers access to an amazing and supportive career. WhiteHat and Drive Forward focus on providing their young people with holistic career support and one-to-one guidance throughout their journey.

"It’s about allowing our young carers to be able to start early in their careers, just like WhiteHat, Drive Forward focuses on providing a stable and constant relationship with our young people."

Next our panel, featuring Fariah Naaz, WhiteHat’s Digital Marketing Coach, Shenika Hylton, Business Development Assistant and former Drive Forward member, and Lucy Elamad, Head of Corporate Engagement at Drive Forward, and chaired by Sophie Samuelson-Powell, WhiteHat’s Partnerships Manager, were introduced to our audience.

Shenika started off the discussion by sharing her story, explaining how the extensive support she received from her Drive Forward mentor and the nurturing environment she found herself in helped bolster her confidence and improve her confidence whilst in her placement at a law firm.

“When you come from a background of care where your family doesn’t support you, you can struggle with confidence. You’re going to feel nervous, so just having that supportive environment is amazing.”

The audience then heard from Fariah as she shared her first hand experience of being a care leaver and how she used an apprenticeship to change her life.

"I was adamant I wanted to do an apprenticeship. The idea of earning and learning was amazing. Southwark council had a recruitment day and signing up to the apprenticeship scheme felt right."

Key takeaways

The resounding takeaway from the morning was that when you hire a care leaver, it isn't just a job - you are changing their life and setting them up for a career. It is crucial to build a stable and supportive relationship with the young care leaver, giving individuals who have huge potential and drive a platform to make a real impact and reach their full potential.

Businesses looking to take on care-leavers need to create an environment to nurture the care-leaver, creating a space where they can build relationships and feel included - it’s about giving them that 5 extra minutes, the extra support and care they deserve. One of our panellists reflected on the emotional commitment involved, but that it is a chance to make a real difference in a young person’s life.

“You can be that person they look up to support them. It is life-changing for them. This placement isn’t just a 1-week placement, it’s a chance to be in a corporate environment and give them that confidence they need."

And of course, care-leavers can offer a huge amount of value to a business.

“They think outside the box [and] it’s nice to have the young energy. It allows you to recognise that they are young people but they have so much to offer. They help keep you young as well."

It is WhiteHat’s mission to develop a diverse group of future leaders. Our apprenticeships are competitive, aspirational and challenging, specialising in Tech, Finance and Business at some of the UK’s most exciting companies. Some of Drive Forward’s young people are ready for that challenge now, but for others it’s a longer-term goal. Whatever stage they are at with their own development, WhiteHat are thrilled to be working closely with the staff at Drive Forward to offer them support along the way.