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Engaging young people in Birmingham

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Omar Sadiq ran the latest Engaging Our Schools programme at HMRC Birmingham. Here' what he had to say about his experience.

I am an operational delivery apprentice within H M Revenue and Customs. My day to day job consists of resolving debts and setting up arrangements as part of a debt resolution team.  As part of my apprenticeship I have got a number of exams, I’m currently working on a work based project as well as building my personal portfolio. I saw an opportunity to get involved in working with a local school. This looked like a good opportunity to help support students on their journey as well as for my personal development.

I was the project manager for the fifth Engaging our Schools programme to be run from City Centre House, Birmingham.

The six week programme, initially introduced to us by Civil Service Local, is designed to introduce year 10 students to a working environment, developing key skills, building confidence to increase their employability options on leaving education.  The programme also gives a development opportunity for HMRC staff, who act as mentors to the students throughout the programme.

Throughout the programme the students and staff worked with a variety of external organisations and businesses, which included looking at options for when students leave school, a ‘guess my job’ interactive session and mock interviews. The programme is also fun, with elements of fundraising, during week 3 we held a fundraising event selling cakes and samosas to staff in the office which raised £309 for Birmingham’s children’s hospital, the sale was run in the style of ‘The Apprentice’ which introduced business and sales skills, it all got very competitive but lots of fun had by all.

In the final week we held our celebratory event – Deputy Director of Large Business, Frances Khan-Msuya who had been involved in implementing the programme spoke of its success and how it has developed.  The event was also attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham. They as well as the Headmaster were on hand to present certificates to all the students and mentors who took part, with the students handing over a cheque to a representative from the hospital. To add something extra to the event ’Poll Everywhere’ sessions were run - an internet polling tool, which made the day very interactive and engaging for all who attended.

I am now working with Civil Service Local and looking to spread this across other government departments. I would love to see this worthwhile programme introduced in other areas within HMRC and across the Civil Service also, so please get in contact if you’d like more information -


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