Are you ready to ELBA? Honours recognition for CEO’s predecessor
I need to start this week by congratulating my predecessor, Liam Kane, who was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Well done Liam, so very well deserved. I am a great fan of the honours system, even though it can tend to put people who have given a lifetime of public service on a par with a twenty-something luvvie who can hardly be said to have even started a lifetime yet (grumpy old man in there somewhere). In this instance, the system has got it right. Liam has tirelessly campaigned and pushed for social mobility and even-handedness in east London for many years – the last 15 at ELBA. It’s good to know he will still be around in east London doing more of the same even though he has now moved on from us.
And there is still very much to do. This week I saw the recent graduates from a brilliant programme – Street Elite – backed by Berkeley Homes, which uses sport and an offer of work placements to get through to disengaged young people – the so called “Unknowns”. It’s a tough love regime and while it doesn’t run in east London yet, it was inspiring to see that young people who think that they stand no chance of getting a proper start in adult life can be helped to feel that they do have a stake in society. At present the work placements are in construction, which narrows the attraction and means there is a preponderance of boys. At ELBA we have been discussing with our local partners how we could help similarly disengaged young people believe that with effort and hard work they could get jobs in the City and Canary Wharf – currently many of them believe it is a world which is not for them. It certainly will not be easy – ELBA corporate partners rightly have high standards for all recruits at whatever skill level, but no young person should arrive at early adulthood believing that certain walks of life are barred just because of where you come from. And it’s encouraging to see what can be done. I also met this week two young men who have secured jobs (and an apprenticeship) with the help of ELBA, Broadgate Estates and their suppliers, working in the Broadgate business district, right in the heart of the City. Inspiring stuff, and we want to do more.
It was also the launch of University of East London’s Voices of the East festival – and a lively joyous occasion it was. UEL has many mature students who fit their studies in around all the other commitments they have, and it was interesting to hear how they weave their life experiences into their studies, surely making them much more rounded graduates. But as I have mentioned a number of times previously, the evidence shows that family background and the university attended still carry more weight than personal merit in getting graduate level work and in determining post-graduation earnings.
Liam saw this and did something about it by setting up London Works, ELBA’s ethical recruitment agency that believes in the talent of the region’s graduates, and places them into temporary and permanent work in ELBA corporate partner organisations and other major employers. It’s a brilliant idea and since Liam first took the initiative London Works has helped over 400 people get a good start in their careers. So here’s to you Liam – thanks from all of us at ELBA and London Works and I hope you really enjoy the well deserved recognition.