Martin Roberts, Assistant Principal at Manchester Communication Academy: Careers, confidence & communication

Martin is the Careers & Partnerships lead at the academy, and has just signed up to deliver the 1MM programme for a second year. Here, Martin explains the importance of exploring new ways for students to grow, understand the labour market, and achieve their ambitions.

Please can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am passionate about social justice and new ways of facilitating social mobility. Our students’ life chances are significantly confounded by the impact of social disadvantage. My role is to develop new partnerships and facilitate new projects into the academy which will support personal development, offer enrichment and break down barriers to achieving aspirations.

Why did you want you want to get involved with 1MM?

My belief is that interpersonal skills, particularly confidence in communication and networking, are vital in terms of a young person navigating their way through their late teenage years and on their career journey.

The 1MM project appeared a wonderful opportunity to enable us to identify students who are currently struggling in this area and support their development in a prolonged and meaningful way.

What challenges do you see facing young people today?

I would argue that the most significant challenges facing our young people is gaining a true understanding of the ever changing labour market and making connections with industry, in the main I believe due to generational unemployment.

Our young people are aspirational but often feel unsure and lost in seeing a pathway to where they want to be.

Have you enjoyed your work with 1MM?

I am enjoying listening to the students reflect on their experiences. There is an apparent improvement when doing this, in terms of their use of language and positivity in their communication about their career ambitions.

Have there been any positive outcomes for your young people as a result of your involvement with 1MM?

In our first cohort the majority of our students reported that they had a positive experience with their mentor. We would concur with this and the head of year have noticed an impact in terms of improved attitudes to learning and communication during progress reviews.

Have you personally learnt anything through your involvement with 1MM?

To improve the programme further, to do a deeper exploration into the students starting position, be it confidence, knowledge, aspirations and then into the potential mentors, so that the matching up process is robust.

What would you say to someone who is considering partnering with 1MM?

I would recommend the programme as the calibre and pedigree of the mentors recruited would be difficult to access or replicate individually. I would say that 1MM have a genuine commitment to social mobility and impact, which is evident in their communications and operations.