Sometimes things get in the way

Sometimes things get in the way. Life. Let’s face it, life gets in way. Sometimes that means you forget just what has been achieved or the importance of things alters. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at what matters to you. What are the little things that count and why do they matter?  

Recent projects, workload and family life means that I’ve not given much focus to that little book I wrote a few years back. Understandable? Yes.  
Am I alright with that? Kind of.  

Is it time that changed? Absolutely.

It turns out that Employability What? is still doing what I wanted it to do. It’s still selling, slowly but surely on line. Schools are still interested. Parents are still telling me how it’s helped their children. Most importantly for me, I’m watching young people use it as they develop into talented, driven, employable individuals.

Suffice to say, you’re going to be hearing a lot more from me on my mission to make sure all young people know they ARE EMPLOYABLE.



What does Brexit mean for young people?

Just to be clear, I don’t have the answer and I’m convinced that’s because the answer is ours to decide.

IF today’s decision to leave the EU means a period of economic instability, IF it means we see changes in the make-up of our workforce and the skills we export, IF we see differences in where and how we trade, IF, IF, IF.  Let’s face it, at the moment all we have are a lot of ‘IF’ questions to which no-one really has the answers.

What I can see at this stage is this: it’s now more important than ever for our young people and for the generations that comes next, to be fully prepared to take their place in the workforce, armed with the employability skills and careers education, information, advice and guidance they need.  For some this may mean maximising entrepreneurial opportunities and finding solutions to problems.  For some, it will mean going into employment.  For some, it may mean joining the growing social enterprise sector or something different entirely.  Whichever way, our young people are going to be play a key part in moving this country forward.

As parents, as educators, as individuals and as employers there are sure to be uncertain times ahead but surely it’s time to pull together in whatever ways we can to ensure our young people are best prepared for what their future holds.


The importance of employability skills

I talk about employability skills on a pretty much daily basis.  With teaching professionals.  With individuals.  With service professionals.  With employers.  It doesn’t matter who I’m working with, the need to understand and to demonstrate employability skills comes out strong every time.  Individuals, particularly young people, need to understand the importance of these skills and how to demonstrate them.  Employers simply want someone with the attitude and skills vital to their business.

I wanted to share with you a quick example of something I’ve been involved in recently as part of the day job, supporting skills across the Humber…

Success in the Kitchen (taken from )

Devil’s Kitchen Thursday 26th May saw 50+ guests from the business world enjoy an evening of devilish delight at the Holiday Inn, Hull Marina.

16 young people on the Springboard programme, a programme linked to the Humber LEP went head to head in a true Hull versus East Riding battle. All in the name of the Smile Foundation a local charity whose aim is to see other charities and projects in Hull and East Yorkshire become more successful.

Plans for the event began way ahead of time and have included opportunities for Springboard clients wherever possible. This included East Riding Client Jack spending two days with local design agency Strawberry where he designed and produced a very professional event programme.

Mike Parker, Chair of the Humber LEP Employment and Skills Board said; “The Springboard programme is a great way to engage the business community though the Skills Pledge campaign. This event showcased the skills of these young people with an innovative, well planned approach”.

The Blue team (Hull) and the red team (East Riding) produced a fabulous three-course meal, gained hands-on work experience and delivered outstanding customer service. The young people on the Springboard Programme are not currently in employment, education or training but they want to be, and are working towards it, which showed in abundance in the unique opportunity for our young people to put their employability skills to the test in a real working environment, and putting themselves in the ‘shop window’ for potential jobs, apprenticeships, and placements.

Shiv Nand, Pepperells Solicitors said; “I had a wonderful time, with great company, and see a promising future for this Hull and East Riding Generation”.

Holiday Inn, Hull Marina, laid open their doors to put on this impressive event. The chef and Holiday Inn team instructed the young people on how to cater for the guests, cook, create table displays, serve and all they would need to put on a fine evening.

Guests were able to give to the charity, instead of paying for their dining experience, with the event achieving over £1,250 in donations for the Smile Foundation charity.

Daniel Roach, MB Roach and Sons Civil Engineering said; “”A fantastic evening! The team have been a credit to themselves, and hopefully a few will end up with a job or placement by the end of the night””

Katie Oxtoby, Hull Pie, said;”It has been brilliant. At moments I felt emotional as it is really heart-warming and such a great thing that Springboard are doing. The guys are doing exactly the right thing to make themselves employable. Employers want to see CV’s from people who have demonstrated commitment to improving their skills.””

The long term results for the young people are yet to be seen, but early feedback is very encouraging, with employers contacting for more information and requesting interviews for the 16 stars of the evening.  One young person has already met with an employer who attended on the night and has secured a two week work experience placement in an admin / accounts setting proving that the skills demonstrated at the event really are transferable.

A great success

It always brings a lump to my throat when I receive a message or am tagged in a post with someone talking about an employability success but there have been some that have really hit me.  One of those is a wonderful young man, Luke.

I’ve known Luke since he was tiny and babysat for him and his older sister for many years.  He won’t mind me saying that he’s been through some twists and turns but he has an amazing family and support network around him who’ve picked him up and have also given him the odd kick up the backside when necessary.

I’d already done some work with Luke’s sister and having supported her to develop her CV and got her in the zone for an interview, she’s grown and developed in a role she’s perfectly suited to.   

When I got the call to see if I could do anything to help Luke out, the answer was a definite yes.  He read “Employability What?” and we talked through his skills, his experience in a number of temporary and short term roles and looked at how his CV could highlight the wealth of employability skills he’d developed.  Luke had a lot of experience in admin and a keen interest in ICT so we discussed careers and the routes in which led him to look at an apprenticeship.  

To cut a long story short, short by a year to be precise, Luke did get an apprenticeship but not one that he’d imagined or even knew existed thanks to poor careers education, information, advice and guidance (best not to get me started on that right now).  A year later, here’s the photo that greeted me and I couldn’t be prouder of this amazing young man…

  Finally after 20 years I have a full time job!  I’ve been through a lot of jobs in my time but I’ve never loved my job and the people I work with more than this.  It’s been a tough year to prove my worth but I tried and succeeded!  Thank you to my family who have stuck with me through this journey, it’s been a tough road to this point but it’s finally all coming together.

NCW2015 and a year of ‘Employability What?’

The amazing celebration of all things careers, National Careers Week 2015, is upon us!  NCW2015 provides a great focus for businesses, education providers and young people to explore careers through workshops, experiences and more.  Events are taking place up and down the country and that’s great to see – I’ll be playing my part in that too.

For me, NCW2015 is not only a great opportunity to showcase what’s going on in my area, it also marks the one year anniversary of ‘Employability What?’.  What a year it’s been too!  I’ve had a great response to the book from all walks of life and the comments I’ve received really have been appreciated.

Along this journey there’s been so many mini milestones, each little thing making me realise I’ve done something that has made a mark: the first order of books for a full class; the first books sold in the US; receiving a photo from the local library of a young person reading ‘Employability What?’; the list goes on.

I’ve said it many times before though, selling large quantities is not what it’s all about for me.  The tweets to say the book has helped is why I put pen to paper.  The thank you notes because someone followed the interview advice and totally aced it are why I put my passion into words.  The spark of realisation when a young person realises they are employable – that’s why I do what I do.

So what’s next then?  Well, once NCW2015 is over and I get the chance to take a breather, I’ll be working on getting the ebook version ‘Employability What?’ completed then who knows, I just might start thinking about the next book!

Ann x

Getting ready for NCW2015

During the first week of March 2015 I’ll be celebrating a year since the launch of Employability What? and what a year it has been. What’s more exciting though is that I’ll be doing so during the amazing National Careers Week (NCW) which I’m incredibly proud to represent as a Regional Ambassador for 2015.

Last years events throughout the country were fantastic with over 1,700 schools, academies and colleges and over 1.5million students involved. Students were able to take part in careers fairs, business visits, taster days, workshops and a whole host of other activities all with the aim of getting a greater insight into the vast array of careers available and equipping them with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about getting on to that first step of the careers ladder.

I’m a firm believer that CEIAG goes hand in hand with developing employability skills. Its vital that not only do young people understand the opportunities available to them but they also understand those softer skills that are needed to allow them to succeed on their chosen path.

The NCW2014 Regional Ambassadors were fantastic spokespeople for the cause and encouraged a great many to get involved in their areas. I’ll be doing exactly that ready for the 2015 event which takes place from the 2nd to the 6th of March. I’ll be promoting NCW2015 across the Yorkshire & Humber region and would love to hear from anyone who will be putting on their own events for students, anyone who would like a little help with their events and anyone who might be interested in supporting one of the larger events I’m looking to put on as part of the week.

For more information about NCW2015 visit and be sure sign up and to follow them on Twitter for regular updates, event suggestions and free resources.

Here’s to NCW2015 and supporting our young people with great careers and employability advice.

Sorry I’ve been a little quiet…

The last few months have seen some interesting twists and turns for me personally but the good news is… I’m back!

As you know, writing about employability skills was not my main job and I spent my days busily delivering Hull’s Building Schools for the Future programme along side the great team at Esteem. Well now that the last of the schemes has been successfully handed over and my time with them came to an end, I decided to take some time out over the summer and spend some quality time with my family. As you can imagine, when you’re getting schools ready for the new academic year, summers are pretty much forgotten!

So whilst taking some time out to be a mum, I had plenty of time to think about my next move. Would I take on a similar role for another organisation? Well for me the answer was pretty simple. No. I had built up a great bank of contacts and having become recognised in the region for my work on the subject of employability skills, why not focus on that? So that’s where I am now. I’ve set up my new business which offers employability workshops and business consultancy focused on helping businesses to better interact with education providers. You can find out more about it here: Paradigm Shift Management Limited

What about Employability What? I hear you say, well sales are continuing slow and steady – there have even been a few more copies sold over in the USA.

I’ll be back soon – I promise!

Sound advice from BBC’s Steph McGovern

In order to give a real life context to employability skills, I used tweets from various people when writing Employability What? but I never thought I’d get the opportunity to meet anyone I’d quoted. When the speaker line-up at the Yorkshire International Business Convention had to change and a new speaker was announced, I knew that I had an amazing opportunity.

Steph McGovern, BBC’s business reporter gave the audience a summary of the UK’s economic position, sharing what businesses around the country are telling her but for me, the real gem of her address was when she moved on to the subject of young people and skills. The audience could be in no doubt at the end of her speech that they needed to play their part in up-skilling young people and opening their doors to allow them to experience the wealth of different industries and roles on offer.

Using a bit of tenacity, I was able to secure a couple of minutes with Steph so after waiting patiently behind the various reporters waiting to interview her, I showed her Employability What? and explained why I’d decided to write something that would hopefully help young people prepare themselves for the world of work.

With only enough time for one question before Steph was whisked away, I asked what she thought young people could do to get involved with business ad develop their own skills. Here’s what she said;

“Don’t just look to your teachers for career advice – go out and see and try things for yourself. Have a look at what jobs are out there and see if there is something you don’t know what its about and try and find out more about it. The biggest thing for me is that there are so many careers out there that you and I don’t know what they all are. Every time I go to another business I’ll find a load more jobs I’ve never even heard of.”

“Young people need to be willing to go out and find out more about the world of work. I often say just do as many work experiences as you can. If you rock up somewhere and you hate it, it doesn’t matter, you’ve learnt that you don’t like that industry. Or you might think there’s a job you’d really love to do, actually go and get as near as you can to it.”

“Don’t be afraid to find out more about the world of work because it is exciting and you’ve got to love your job.”

Steph pic

Take The Shot

For those of you who have followed my book writing journey from the start, you’ll have read about the man who finally inspired me to put pen to paper – Action Jackson @Actionjackson

Although the story spans exactly a year, it can be summed up in just a few lines:
The man who motivates thousands every year didn’t think he was good enough to join the big boys and realise his writing dreams. After telling him I’d never heard such an absurd notion and giving him a bit of a shove, he finally did it. Seeing his vision brought to life and have him put in print for all to see what my encouragement had meant to him, I too was inspired and took action to make my dream for Employability What? a reality.

So there you have it, one encouraged the other and in turn received the inspiration and motivation needed.

Jackson and I hadn’t seen each other since that day last March so when we were both lucky enough to be briefly in the same place at the same time, we made the most of it! He was giving a motivational speech at the Career Academies UK graduation in Manchester and I was there as a business mentor and local advisory board chair, supporting the wonderful students of Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull.

During his speech, he encouraged the students to take the opportunities that present themselves or even better, make their own opportunities. Of course, he delivered this in the true Jackson style, throwing balls into the crowd and encouraging them not to pass but to take the shot. He also used the context of our books as the perfect illustration

So why have I written this post? Well it’s for two simple reasons:

1. To thank an amazing man for giving me the self belief I needed
2. To prove that if you take the shot and aim for your goals, great things can be achieved

Special Offer Time!

Employability What? was released almost three months ago and as we enter the summer term, I decided it was time to have a special offer to encourage more schools, colleges and training providers to purchase Employability What? for their students.

Specifically aimed at students between the ages of 14 and 19, Employability What? helps them to understand the employability skills they are already using but probably don’t appreciate before guiding them through how to incorporate these skills and their experience into the perfect CV. When used in groups in the classroom, it links in perfectly with the recently released DfE statutory guidance on careers guidance and inspiration in schools.


To place your order, get in touch via e-mail on