Youth radio station tackles Hackney unemployment

Reprezent presenters stand outside bank Societe Generale

Reprezent presenters stand outside bank Societe Generale - Credit: Archant

The UK’s leading youth radio station has launched a series of programmes to combat youth unemployment in London’s second most deprived borough.

Reprezent FM, the first and only UK radio station to be run by people under 25, established in 2002, has partnered with the East London Business Alliance (ELBA) to create broadcasts for young people in Hackney about employment opportunities.

To combat the rising levels of unemployment in Hackney’s youth, Reprezent’s five strong production team have produced three radio programmes and video footag featuring interviews with 200 volunteers from two of Europe’s biggest financial conglomerates, Societe Generale and UBS.

Members of the team interviewed employees of the banks on how they got into the financial sector and advice they would give to young people looking to break into this industry.

Katan Hirachand of Societe Generale, said: “Connecting with young people who have less awareness of the opportunities available is essential.

“People in business have a critical role in bridging this gap, especially younger employees who can often relate better and serve to inspire.”

Other issues featured included advice about interview technique, written applications and where to find opportunities.

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Paul Kilty, the director of Reprezent spoke of the necessity of the project.

He said: “Reprezent radio has a strong and authentic connection with an audience of more than 120,000 listeners who all experience adversity in some way.

“Employment is a big problem for a lot of young people, and a lot of them felt especially distant and alienated from the corporate world and the transferable skills needed for any job.

“In creating these broadcasts we have made bitesize, snappy and engaging features for young people, will be engaged in learning about employment and won’t switch off.”

The production team also gained hands-on “real life work experience” at Reprezent’s head office.

The young people were taught how to use radio equipment and present and edit their programmes by freelance journalist Peter Sale.

He said: “Whether it was leaving their comfort zone to talk to workers in the City, talking to employment organisations or getting tips from young people in work, the presenters shared their experiences with the listeners and offered advice on breaking down barriers, training and where to find your dream job.”

Jazzmine Grimes, one of the presenters on Reprezent, said: “I loved experiencing going to places I would have never even known about before.

“I gained a better understanding of how the corporate world works.”

Reprezent, also partnered with UBS and Societe Generale to put on workshops at the banks for young people, with mock interviews and the chance to probe directors about skills and job opportunities.

Mr Kilty now hopes to secure funding for a longer term future for the project.

He said: “We want to do weekly radio shows on this, featuring successful young people with inspiring things to say and sources of opportunities for our listeners.

“We want to bridge that gap between large companies and young people so the next generation’s workforce can be tapped into.”