Social mobility charity returns for second residential programme in Manchester

Lorna Selby grew up on the Isle of Wight and felt as though she didn’t have the same opportunities as somebody from the mainland.

“I’ve always wanted a professional job and my parents never had that. And my siblings never had that,” she said. “So nobody could really give me advice on what to do.”

Barriers to joining the workforce can come in an array of different forms, from geographic to socio-economic. And it isn’t as simple as just being able to move away.

“There were no opportunities for me to do an internship on the mainland because I had nowhere to stay or I’d have to pay to stay there,” added Lorna.

That’s where The Talent Tap came in – a social mobility charity that helps students from rural or isolated areas and working-class backgrounds get work experience. 

A virtual programme with TTT during the pandemic got Lorna a placement at the Tony Blair Foundation – and last year, during TTT’s first residential in Manchester, she interned at workplace tech company Culture Shift. 

Now, Lorna has a position as a policy and advocacy officer at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust which she said she wouldn’t have secured without the support she’s received.

TTT’s second Manchester-based work experience programme is about to kick off, running from 2 to 12 July. 

Leigh Adams, newly appointed CEO of The Talent Tap, said: ”Manchester’s got a huge amount of talent up there which we need to tap into, pardon the pun.”

This year, TTT is working with 11 businesses in Manchester and hosting 25 students. Meanwhile, in London they are working with 32 businesses and hosting 102 students over two two-week residentials.

Manchester events will include networking evenings and a session with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and work experience providers include several law firms, and a financial services company, as well as IT businesses, hospital department The Christie Pathology Partnership, and e-commerce specialists The Hut Group.

The Talent Tap students at Praetura placement at last year’s residential – image provided by TTT

Adams said: ”Manchester has had to build itself up into what it is. In terms of it being a hub of creativity and tech, I think it offers a different perspective. It offers life through a different lens. And that can only be enriching for young people to go and experience.”

While London has been seen as the hub for professional industries for many years, cities such as Manchester are continuously growing in terms of their industries and their opportunities.

Over the past decade, Manchester has become a hotspot for the tech industry, being the home to an estimate of over 10,000 digital and tech businesses.

With the developments in tech and areas such as the Oxford Road Corridor – which accounts for 50% of Manchester’s life science businesses and 50% of Greater Manchester’s innovation assets and houses 7,100 businesses along with music venues, auditoriums and exhibition spaces – Manchester has grown into a hub of knowledge, business and culture. 

Along with securing a placement for two weeks, TTT also organises accommodation and activities for the students as well as pastoral support through TTT alumni mentors. 

Adams said: “I think what’s great about the programme we run is bringing people together who’ve never met each other before, have very different experiences of life, come from different areas, are doing different jobs, have different interests. 

“It’s that kind of interaction which makes this a very rich programme.”

Lorna agrees: “My favourite part was meeting the other people. It was such a good group and I made some great friends there. 

“It was nice to be able to relax and discuss your experiences on your placement. Because sometimes you do have a not so good experience on your placement and you can talk to them about it without the fear of being judged.”

One of the Manchester businesses TTT works with is Addleshaw Goddard LLP (AG), an international law firm. 

Sonia Kumar, CSR and Inclusion Advisor for AG, said: “Last year we heard from The Talent Tap and thought it sounded like a really great experience in the way of reaching those young people in more rural cultural areas.

“The students that we were working with were just so impressive in terms of their confidence and enthusiasm and passion for being in the business and those who worked with them had really positive feedback to.

“It really made us want to continue to work with them and for us to do the programme again this year.”

The firm is hosting two students from TTT this year and offering them work shadowing, presentation experience, and chats with members from different departments  – part of a drive to overcome the often elitist and closed-off nature of the corporate workforce, including law. 

Adams, only recently appointed CEO of TTT, has ambitions to expand beyond Manchester and London for work experience, as well as looking to provide opportunities in a greater range of industries. 

TTT is also looking into piloting a course in September helping young people improve their sense of self-worth.

Adams said: “Building their self-confidence up is absolutely critical to enable them to investigate, ask questions and do new things.”

Feature image: Taken by Laura Kernaghan at TTT networking and drinks reception in Manchester 2023.

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